Now we are firmly into double figures on our i-newsletter, I took the trouble to review all the wonderful things that we have chronicled over the past couple of years. I also, in an act of shameful hubris, re-read my letters and realised that I perhaps talk a little too much about myself and not the school! Admittedly, I have tried to use my own life experiences as a springboard to form observations about school life and how your sons and daughters are benefitting from all the experiences here. From finding beers in a stream in the Krkonoše mountains to the ephemeral beauty of the solar eclipse, from Prague traffic jams to being a little “jaded”... I’ve tried to use them as a vehicle to help give some context and a flavour of what our team of teachers and support staff are trying to do here. So in my next newsletter, I was determined that I would, to coin an English expression, play with a straight bat, and simply write directly about the school… but then it happened.
I was on Day One of a tightly scheduled three-day excursion by bicycle, visiting three of the five start of term school trips. I couldn’t fit them in all though. I wasn’t able to make it to the fascinating, linguistically-focussed trip to Česká Kamenice, where students were working alongside German-speaking residents on an oral history project. Nor could I manage to schedule in the Year 2 trip to Kroměříž, where our Bohemian-centric perspectives were infused with a rich diet of Moravian culture. But I was going to see the Year 3 mountain trip to Krkonkoše, the Year 1 induction trip to Jizerské hory and the Year 4 adventure trip in Šumava.
So, as I say, then it happened…. in the dark, the mist and rain just five kilometres short of the Year 4 adventure trip campsite in Šumava. I found myself in a ditch, slightly scared, with my bicycle on top of me and with a broken back. It sounds more dramatic than it is, as you can see from the photo, I am on the mend. Now as teachers we are (or should be!) fascinated with learning, especially experiential learning. What I did learn from this dramatic fall? I learnt that Český Krumlov hospital was filled with warm, generous and kind staff. I learnt that staff and indeed students were genuinely concerned for my welfare. I learnt that parents were equally concerned and one even provided me with a special kneeling chair to enable me to sit comfortably at my desk. In short, I learnt that despite being 1,000 km from my native home I am also at home here in Vysočany. If a school, even in a small, tiny way, feels something like a “home” then we are going in the right direction. During the recent visit by British inspectors, we were identified as one of the leading schools in the Czech Republic and one with many outstanding features. One of those outstanding features, they said, was the warmth and relaxed nature of our relationships in our school. This is something which, while no substitute for the real thing, might on a good day prompt our students to call ECP “home”.
Nigel Brown, ECP Headmaster