Our Open Events - No Frills!
On 29 September – 01 October, we hosted three Open Events for prospective families considering which school would be right for their child in September 2019. I would like to place on record my thanks to families considering Mercia School, we offer something very different to neighbouring schools in the south-west of Sheffield. We believe a range of schools to choose from is a good thing for families. We are proud to offer a school that delivers a traditional educational approach, underpinned by exemplary behavioural standards, explicit teaching, compassionate staff and world-class enrichment opportunities. Mercia School offers strict discipline, in tandem with kindness, buckets of compassion and a healthy dose of enthusiasm.
We pride ourselves on honest communication. Our Open Events reflected our commitment to being honest and candid. The Headteacher was totally up front about our Family Lunch, demerits and the need for parents to back the school unequivocally. The Deputy Headteacher was honest about our traditional approach to teaching and learning, our rigorous curriculum and first-class enrichment. The Assistant Headteacher was honest about how much pupils will read and write, as well as our approach to shaping pupils in to well-rounded individuals through form time.
Why were we so open and honest? Well, because we want parents to make an informed choice. We are a school that some people will adore, but some won’t. We implore families not to simply tick the box saying ‘Mercia School’ when applying for secondary school! We are a unique school in Sheffield and it is vital parents/carers know what they are signing up to… all parents/carers will be held to the same high standards as their child.
We approached our Open Events differently. We didn’t cherry pick pupils to volunteer, we didn’t pick our ‘best’ pupils (whatever that means!?). We didn’t strong arm our most talented musicians, our chamber choir or our orchestra into performing. We didn’t get the trampolines out or set up the science labs. Obviously the pupils will get the opportunities to enjoy these things if they come to Mercia School, but we don’t think such a vital decision should be made on a ‘staged’ or potentially inaccurate picture of a school. We believe in the absolute opposite – we are always open, honest and candid. We keep things simple – there were no frills at the Open Events. There were no displays to look at - we don’t waste time on things that have no impact on the progress of our pupils or their level of enjoyment at school. Why would we?
There was an excellent turn out over the course of the three events, we estimate welcoming over 1,500 people to our school. We felt really humbled and thank families for taking the time to come and see us. Our magnificent staff were in attendance, all ready to champion a school that cares deeply about them, a school that protects them and provides an environment where they can flourish (i.e. an environment where they can forget about managing poor behaviour and teach. And teach very well!). An army of pupil volunteers welcomed visitors and took them on guided tours of the building. No gimmicks. No scripts. No preparation. Totally unrehearsed. The pupils were amazing! We were all so proud of them.
I want to pay tribute to our pupils. My goodness, they were unbelievable during all the events. We asked for volunteer pupils to join us on a Saturday and Sunday morning (!), welcome visitors, answer any of their questions and show them around our building. Out of 124 pupils, almost 90 volunteered. We were stunned and made it clear that every single one of them was most welcome. We didn’t cherry pick pupils (and won’t. Ever).
During the events, our pupils were articulate, composed, and totally sincere. They showed tremendous confidence and eloquence, showing what it means in part to be ‘Mercia’. They informed visitors of their interesting lessons, the challenges they have faced and the fun they have had. They were (and are) so proud of their school – it was so lovely to watch pupils diligently direct visitors and champion their school. We were bursting with pride!
The volunteer pupils dispelled the misconception that with strictness comes gloominess. They proudly told prospective parents how happy they are. They have fun. They enjoy themselves. At Mercia we’re strict. We are up front about that, but we are kind and compassionate as well. We never, ever shout at children. We don’t need to. Pupils know the rules and the expectations – they meet them and are a credit to their families.
If you decide to pick us, you need to know that we will implement our rules and policies diligently and to the letter. You can’t pick and choose which rules apply to your child. All of our rules apply to all of our pupils – obviously. I can guarantee the expectations of your child will be extremely high. Your expectations of us, as a result, will be equally high (and rightly so).
During the Open Events, we made it clear that we teach pupils didactically. We stand at the front, tell them what they need to know and we practise. A lot. We believe in reading, we don’t believe so much in technology. We told families that being able to read and write with accuracy matters most, we told families proficiency in mathematics matters most, alongside articulacy, eloquence, perfect manners and a bit of fun along the way too…
We believe in the start we have made and the school we have built. Parents and carers support us. Staff are happy, pupils even more so. This short post articulates 5% of what we do. We are loving life at Mercia School – staff, pupils, families. The lot!
If you want your child to come to Mercia School in September 2019, pick us first choice.
Joshua G. Fisher