By Clair Hill - October 24th, 2023 | Posted in Article

“Our greatest strength lies not in never falling, but in rising each time we fall” – Nelson Mandela

This week has been Risk Week at the secondary school site. It has been a week dedicated to encouraging students and staff to take risks and get out of their ‘comfort zone’. As the quote from Nelson Mandela suggests, it’s important that we learn that failing is often a good thing because we can grow and learn from it. Not taking risks because we are afraid to fail hinders our success in many areas of our lives.

Many of our students are worried about failure or anxious about change. Risk Week is about providing opportunities to be brave and learn that even if we fail, we can celebrate trying. We have been encouraging students to have a ‘growth mindset’ both in the classroom and around school. They have been praised for their efforts, not their achievements. Language such as ‘I can’t do it yet” has been used.

Students decided at the beginning of the week the risks they might take and wrote them down. Ideas included putting their hands up and answering or asking questions, trying a new way to solve problems and working with new people. Staff were also encouraged to take risks, for example by trying out new teaching methods.

Outside of the classroom, students have tried new clubs, run tuck shop and even run the exit door at the end of the day. Students have been writing the risks they have been taking on the ‘Risk Week Wall’ The Risk Week Festival on Tuesday afternoon was a chance to try activities to challenge everyone. There was a real buzz. There were different zones including food tasting, ‘icky’ science and a whole school dance to the Macarena.

Johnson class also ran a treat shop for Cancer Research and raised £40. The main event of the festival was a ‘poetry slam’ organised by Sian. It was phenomenal! A lot of students got out of their comfort zone and took part. They read poems or read short stories they had written. Some even sang. I particularly enjoyed Yates’s amazing puppet show – the Boy Who Cried Wolf. A special mention to Charlotte is also merited – she took a risk and was amazing as the compère for the event, praising the success and efforts of all of the students and staff.

Other events have included a bus day event organised by TFL to teach students about safe travel, as well as a workshop visit from Honeywood Museum to investigate the smells of lavender. It was a great week and lovely to hear the language of ‘growth mindset’ being used. I am sure at least some students will be encouraged to try new things and not be afraid of failure.