Moving on up…

“Harry’s heart gave a horrible jolt. A test? In front of the whole school? But he didn’t know any magic yet – what on earth would he have to do? He hadn’t expected something like this the moment they arrived. He looked around anxiously and saw that everyone else looked terrified too….”[1]

You remember it as if were yesterday, don’t you? We all do. Even future Wizards do. Indeed it’s perhaps our one collective, common and defining memory.

Moving on up…

Your first day at secondary school; the big school.

Maybe it was the smell of the disinfectant.

The rumours we’d all heard beforehand. 

Or just the sense of anticipation; trepidation, even. 

All potentially daunting, as we recall, when it happens in real time. And an experience later mirrored for those who are parents, as we relive the emotions for those we love and cherish most in our lives. 

Fortunately, through great partnership working, most secondary and primary schools have now established extended induction programmes designed to allay the fears which, perhaps for readers with longer memories, were not addressed by the single, cursory afternoon visit sometime in July.  

Great. Progress.

But what about the immediate present, the now where in ‘learning lockdown’ this transition process may not be physically possible or, at best, severely truncated? 

It’s of course going to challenge. But why not seize an opportunity

What indeed if we were to flip this situation around and use it as a chance to – virtually – make the process a genuine learning one, and even better and more positive as a result?

This is exactly what Park House School in Newbury have sought to do in partnership with InspireU @InspireUgplobal and SafeToNet. Together, they’ve developed a virtual and dynamic transition platform, available now, two months prior to what in ‘normal’ times young people would experience as a set piece. 

Here’s a sneak peak of our work in progress at InspireU

Crucially, this also means that as a result of a link to SafeToNet’s pioneering technology the school’s future generation of students, and their parents, will already be learning together about safer and more responsible online behaviour in the digital environment they are both  experiencing now and will shortly be moving into. 

What if then, for the next generation of students, it’s this that will be their abiding and wholly positive memory of the move on up to ‘big school’? Times do, and maybe can, indeed change for the better…


About Derek

Derek is the Headteacher of Park House School in Newbury, a mixed 11-18 Converter Academy of 1150 students and former Daily Telegraph National Specialist Sports College of the Year.  Prior to his appointment to the Headship of Park House in 2003, Derek was the Headteacher of Woodcote High School, another Specialist Sports College, in the London Borough of Croydon.

Derek has played a leading role in a wide range of regional, national and international education initiatives. His school’s distinctive use of sport and the Olympic and Paralympic Values to build confidence in learning across the curriculum featured as a case study in the Demos CharacterNation ReportIn this context, Derek’s ‘values-driven ambition for students’ has been praised by Ofsted as a distinctive feature of his leadership. 

As a result of the breadth of his work, Derek was shortlisted for the 2016 Times Education Supplement National Headteacher of the Year Award.


[1] From Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by of course J.K.Rowling

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