On a recent tour, showing prospective parents around the school, I was asked what I felt Coleridge’s greatest strength was. I answered, that while we have high expectations for our children academically, we place equal, if not greater, importance on the development of the whole child. We design lessons and deliberately create learning opportunities so that our children can grow to become resilient, emotionally intelligent, socially confident and empathetic.
It is a shame therefore, that in the public domain at least, schools are only really judged on the performance of their children in Maths and English. So much of what makes our school so special is not evident to those outside our school community, as league tables and nationally published data don’t really take account of any of the other aspects of child development.
At the moment we are preparing for the annual school play, which this year is Fantastic Mr Fox. The play, whether our children are acting, dancing, singing, or making props, develops our children in so many ways that the traditional curriculum simply cannot.
Watching the children prepare this week has been fantastic! During the preparation, you can see them demonstrating collaborative problem solving, they listen and support each other, and they talk about how they are feeling. The experience of being involved in the play really does have an impact on developing our children’s emotional intelligence and ability to work collaboratively.
Daniel Goleman, a well know academic in the field of education, defines emotional intelligence as being able to accurately perceive emotions in oneself and in others, to understand different emotions, and be able to control them. This comes naturally for some of our children, however for many others they need opportunities to practice this. Emotional intelligence is something that can be improved and sharpened, much like the learning of skills in maths or English.
In his book Emotional Intelligence: why it can matter more than IQ, Goleman suggests that understanding and controlling one’s emotions plays a huge role in developing a healthy, happy, positive mind-set – something which is important for success in later life both socially and in the workplace.
Because of this, we devote a huge amount of time, energy and resources into the play. Watching it each year, one cannot help but marvel at the children’s confidence, their collaborative creativity, and their willingness to support and encourage one another.
I look forward to seeing you at one of our many performances over the coming weeks to celebrate what our children have achieved.