Rosie Allen's Blog, 25 September 2020

It’s hard to believe that I am only three weeks in post.  The school already feels like home and it is such a blessing to feel equally happy as both new Paragon Head and a new Paragon parent.  With everything else going on at the moment it is a pleasant surprise to be feeling so settled and calm, so I am taking advantage of this to share a thought provoking video from the late, great Sir Ken Robinson with you.  It’s a bit of an old one – 10 years to be precise – but it was a talk which crystallised for me a decade ago so many of the reflections I was having about what makes a really exceptional school.

My favourite part is the bit about paperclips.  I’m sure you’ve heard it before -  the experiment in which a group of pre-schoolers are asked how many uses they can find for the humble paperclip.  A group of 3-4 year olds will apparently happily reel off fifty uses just for starters, and that’s before they’ve reimagined the size, shape and material of said paperclip.  Give the same group of children the same test a few years later and the inevitable happens – the number of uses they can think of reduces with age.  Eventually, by the time they are adults, most of them can think of just 10-15 uses for a paperclip, compared to the 200 they might have come up with aged four.  Sir Ken asks, what has happened to this group of test subjects between preschool and adult life? Answer - they’ve been educated.

Imagine an education system which goes against this grain, schools which encourage, champion and value divergent thinking.  A community of learners who are willing to reimagine the art of the possible.  I find it a delightful irony that the very difficult time we now find ourselves in, full of change, chaos and uncertainty, is also the crucible for lasting change in the way we fulfil the purpose of education.  To be commencing a new Headship at a time like this is far more of a blessing than you would think.