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Happy holidays everyone from me to you!

Posted on: December 17th, 2015


Dr Nicholas Capstick

CEO, The White Horse Federation

Nick Capstick, CEO writes…

As we near the end of term two and head into the festive holiday season, it’s time for me once again to say how truly wonderful you all are. And how grateful on behalf of our pupils and students for the endless stream of energy that you put into our schools, day in and out no matter what job you do.

It’s a time of reflection where we really should thank our lucky stars for the many great things that we offer and the varied opportunities we are afforded by being part of the family of the WHF but also those offered to us by our families and friends outside of work.

If we are honest, it’s also a time to kick back a bit, let our hair down and look forward to catching up, even for only a few days, on the various things we miss throughout the year. Simple things like time with our neglected families, time to catch up on our reading, meeting friends and doing the sorts of things that we may only just about squeeze in during term time. Time to think therefore about dusting off the old board games and the Radio Times and to settle down for some serious family time. I do like the extra space this time of year gives us to play a few board games, the trouble is that I am a bit stuck in my ways preferring the traditional challenges of Scrabble or the deviousness that things like Cluedo might offer to us. (I am banned from playing Monopoly as apparently my “money grabbing ways are not conducive to the festive spirit”. Not quite sure how killing Professor Plum in the Library is either but hey ho!)

It’s also a time to become reacquainted with the daytime quiz shows that we all know are not worthy TV but are so good to watch, things like “Pointless” or “The Chase”.

Anyway, as I sat the other night pondering on why such shows and board games hold such a draw on my time, when said time permits. I got to thinking about how the very nature of Cluedo, Monopoly, Scrabble, Pointless and The Chase is not unlike some of the best teaching I have seen in our schools this year so far.

Sure we all know why we are here. Sure we know roughly what the outcome will be. We know the rules. The format of the board game or show and in the case of TV programmes we love the presenters, they fascinate us even in subtle ways, but what we don’t know is how we will get to the outcome, the journey that they will take us on.

The familiarity of the pathway though gives us comfort that we are following a well-trodden path in which we can trust, but we also know that it’s worth investing in the board game or the show because of what we will get out of it in the end. Success! Time well invested! Engagement! A sense of fulfilment!

Although we know the core ingredients and we trust, them we don’t know quite how they will end up, the outcomes could be varied and many and as such we wait to see where we will be destined to follow.

Even though TV shows and board games are formulaic by their very nature, they still grab us by the unpredictable nature of the journey and so it must be for very many lessons in our schools. Children and young people must be grabbed from the onset by the premise of what they are about to learn. They’ll probably know most of the ingredients but just like so many of those blessed cookery shows we seem to be addicted to they will not know quite how the recipe for learning will be constructed to create a stunning outcome. There’s a danger if we are not too careful in learning that we stick to tried and tested recipes, but they end up as a predictable, bland diet that can be avoided by clever young minds who are intrigued and grabbed by the unpredictable, challenged by the unexpected and embraced by the curious. My plea is that over the Christmas period we think about varying the diet we will give to our students and the way in which it is served up to them day in and out.

With all of this in mind, I’m off to watch some Xmas cookery programmes to try and find a different way to baste my turkey this year and no that’s not a euphemism!!! 

Christmas turkey web

Happy holidays everyone from me to you! 



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