28 September 2021
Mr Adrian Ross, Sacred Heart Coordinator and Head of Theology
Each year the English Network of Sacred Heart schools, of which Woldingham is a member, commits to focusing on one of the five goals of Sacred Heart education. This year, the goal is a deep respect for intellectual values.
In an assembly at the start of the academic year, I spoke to students about valuing intellect beyond the traditional academic subjects. As a wonderful example of this, I talked about Gillian Lynne who was a ballerina, dancer, choreographer, actress and theatre-television director, with many major stage and film credits to her name – and the first non-royal woman to have a West End theatre named after her. Gillian, who was born in nearby Bromley, struggled at school and was taken to a specialist behaviourist doctor who advised her mother to send her to a dance school. This was a turning point in her life. In Gillian’s own words, “I can't tell you how wonderful it was. We walked in this room, and it was full of people like me - people who couldn't sit still, people who had to move to think." Gillian later auditioned for the Royal Ballet School, became a soloist and had a wonderful career at the Royal Ballet. She founded the Gillian Lynne Dance Company and was responsible for some of the most successful musical theatre productions in history, giving pleasure and joy to millions of people.
When we think of intellect and intelligence, we usually think of high grades in subjects such as English, mathematics and sciences. In his book, Creative Schools, Sir Ken Robinson encourages us to recognise the diverse, dynamic and distinctiveness of intelligence, arguing that ‘Creativity is as important in education as literacy’.
I set students three challenges this academic year. First, consider ways to be more creative in approaching academic work. Second, take advantage of the wide range of creative activities on offer in the school. Like Gillian Lynne, students might discover a new passion and this could turn into an amazing career. Third, take an intellectual risk. Try things out in the classroom, don’t worry about getting it right all the time and have a go at something new - Woldingham is a safe and supportive environment in which to do this.