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Head's Blog

2nd March, 2017

It seems unbelievable that a month has passed since my last blog.

February has been a month packed with exciting trips, lunch, break time and extra curriculum activities all aimed at enriching the unique educational experience of being a pupil or member of staff at Byron College. Ask any pupil at Byron one event which will stick out in their mind and it is unlikely to be the same event.

For Sixth Form pupils it might be their experience of serving meals at one of the many soup kitchens in Athens. For Year 11 pupils it would probably be the Carnival party they organised and ran by themselves. They had a good time, raised money for charity and did a brilliant job of cleaning up afterwards! For Year 10 pupils it would probably be the lunch they shared with some of the unaccompanied refugee minors, who seek practical help as well as psychological support at Faros, where they exchanged their life experiences and delivered much needed clothes and other provisions. For Year 9 pupils it would undoubtedly be their action-packed day at the Adventure Park at Malakassa where they climbed, balanced and swung among the trees, challenging themselves both physically and mentally.

Key Stage Three girls participated in the Greenlight for Girls science day at Campion School. All Key Stage Two and Three pupils had a wonderful morning listening to the Lyavros Ensemble playing homemade reproductions of Ancient Greek instruments. From their amazed expressions, as seemingly mundane everyday objects were turned into instruments, I am sure some would pick this as their special moment in February. Seven teams from Key Stage Three might remember trying to decipher cryptic clues and dashing around school in our first Carnival treasure hunt. While Key Stage Two and One pupils dressing up and parading in the hall where they also got to judge their teachers' costumes might be a highlight for them. Three costumes (or rather impersonations) stand out as the funniest; Natalia (Year 5) dressed-up as Mr. Chatwin, with a cat climbing up her back, Ms. Abastado as Mr. Chrysochoou, forever jacketless in his shirt and tie whatever the weather, and Mr. Chrysochoou getting his retaliation by dressing up as Ms. Abastado.

I would like to think a highlight for some of Year 7 would be when they coached and supported me in my very public bottle flip challenge. When the second bottle landed upright they roared and jumped around as if I had scored the winning goal in an F.A. Cup Final. I must admit that is how I felt too! The pupils who took part in the inter schools under14 football tournament hosted at Byron would identify with this feeling as they won second place.

Four of our Year 7 pupils might choose participating in the International Competition for Young Debaters at Campion as their highlight. This is an under 15 annual tournament held worldwide and organised by the Debating Unions of Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The four top teams in Greece go through to debate at the Oxford Union in May. Six Year 6 pupils also participated in the tournament which was incredibly challenging as the motions and positions were only announced 15 minutes before the start of each debate. We did amazingly well. John Roy (Year 6) being placed 6th best speaker out of 136 pupils and Louai and Fadi (Year 7) missing the semi-finals by only one position. It was also a memorable event for all our Year 6 researchers and timekeepers who participated in the event as part of their training to become debaters.

February also saw the introduction of our weekly Friday afternoon tea party and the Key Stage 2 children, who have already been chosen by their teachers to be invited, might choose this as their memorable moment. Most had not drunk tea before or eaten cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, Victoria sponge, scones or shortbread but they all rose to the occasion with impeccable manners and wonderful conversation.

Year 2 pupils will certainly remember their visit to the Archeleon Sea Turtle Centre. They were enthralled to see the turtles at such close proximity and motivated to want to collect tooth brushes and plastic gloves to help support all the good work that is done at the centre. Year 1 pupils might choose their trip to the Goulandris Museum, or then again, they might choose the sight of Ms. Dimitratou dressed up as Mog the Cat!

And, last but not least, our EYFS were inspired at the Vorres Museum where they used recycled materials to make houses, telescopes, masks and many other creations. I am pleased to say that, since then, I have heard parents say that their children now look at empty packets and boxes with a creative eye!

Ask any teacher what they remember of February and they would probably say hard work, challenges and rewards.

Ask me what my most memorable moment is and I would reply...all of it!

 

 

Emma Dodds
Acting Head of School

 

 

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January 28th, 2017

Today is the day all our Chinese pupils and their families celebrate the New year and, as such, it is an opportunity to wish all the Byron College community a, somewhat belated, joyful, productive and rewarding 2017.

As you will all know the beginning of 2017 has turned another page in the history of Byron College and we go into the New Year full of positive energy, looking forward to the challenges that continually present themselves, and that we welcome, in the organic, ever changing and always progressing dynamics of school life. 'Onwards and upwards' would be an appropriate motto to reflect the spirit of all our teaching staff for 2017.

However, at Byron College we never forget those for whom just surviving, let alone 'onwards and upwards', is a daily battle. Our philanthropic ethos provided one of the most moving few minutes I have experienced since joining the school. Most of you will have seen by now the photographs and video of our Modern Greek teacher, Elpiniki Fragouli, having her long plait cut off in front of the whole school. Her dare was prompted by the Year 10 pupils reaching a target of 400 Euros for Faros, an organization that helps to support unaccompanied refugee minors in Athens; her hair was being donated to make wigs for children with cancer. Before the big moment Ms Fragouli told our excited pupils that making others happy was one of the best feelings in the world which really resonated with us all. Everyone cheered as her hair was cut, everyone felt motivated to do something for others and all the staff felt immensely proud of Byron College and of Ms Fragouli's amazing gesture. Other dares are to follow as further targets are reached but I doubt whether any will have the same impact as this one. We will see...

Another wonderful moment was when the results of the Moraitis Cup Junior Debate Tournament were announced. Our teams, researchers and parents were jumping up and down in their seats as the names of our pupils were called out one after the other. Seven out of the top nine speakers were from Byron College. Then the top teams were announced and even more excitement followed as two of our teams drew for fifth place, two drew for third place and then the moment we had begun to hope for came: First Place...Byron College, Ellie and John Roy. We all screamed, clapped and danced around hardly able to believe it. All the debaters' hard work had paid off. All our Year 6 pupils have felt proud of the achievement and the team spirit they have all shown has been exemplary.

Of course, another milestone is the completion of our new teaching block which will benefit the whole school and also provide the Sixth Form with a fully equipped study area. A lot of time and effort, one could say 'blood, sweat and tears' went in to the fruition of this latest project and I thank everyone involved.

I would also like to thank all the parents and guardians who took the time to complete our questionnaire. We were very happy with the overall results and have taken note of all your comments, both positive and negative. Our pupil body will be completing their questionnaire over the next week and we are looking forward to seeing their assessment of the school and their comments.
So 2017 has got off to a promising start for Byron College. Happy new year to us all!

 

 

Emma Dodds
Acting Head of School

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9th December, 2016

In 1983, Harvard University professor Howard Gardner introduced his pioneering book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Gardner's theory suggested that seven abilities constitute intelligence. In addition to what was traditionally considered as intelligence—logical-mathematical and verbal-linguistics skills—Gardner identified five additional forms of intelligence that are essential to living life well and should be considered when assessing intelligence. These additional intelligences are:

• Visual-spatial – ability to perceive the world and to create, transform and modify representations of it even without physical stimuli
• Musical – competence not only in performing and composing but also in listening and discerning
• Bodily-kinaesthetic – ability to skilfully control body motions and handle objects
• Interpersonal – ability to determine the moods, feelings and mental states of others
• Intrapersonal – ability to know oneself and be at ease

In later years, Gardner added naturalistic – the ability to appreciate and use nature, and existential – recognition of the spiritual. When each of these intelligences are recognised, all children can be considered intelligent based on their personal strengths and abilities. According to Gardner, all individuals possess each of these abilities to some extent, although individuals will differ in the degree of skills and in the nature of their combination. Gardner stresses that it is the interaction between the different intelligences that is fundamental to the workings of the mind and that, in the normal course of events, the abilities actually interact with and build upon one another to form that individual's full intelligence.

At Byron College, we strive for academic excellence but also focus our attention on discovering and developing the skills and talents of each child. We want every child to feel accepted, valued and important and to give each one the greatest possible chance to achieve success and live the best life possible in today's world. We embrace Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences and teach in a variety of ways tailored to all of them. Our teaching and learning strategies include music, art, experiments and group work to ensure that all the children learn through the method best suited to them according to their particular intelligences. Embracing multiple intelligences also enables us to assess each child realistically based on his or her performance in different tasks, rather than to evaluate solely through standard testing of verbal and mathematical skills.

The benefit of teaching with different approaches based on multiple intelligences is that pupils are better able to understand and retain what they have learned. The pupils also benefit from increased levels of confidence and the discovery of new talents. Children become more engaged during learning when their emotional and intellectual needs are met. Behavioural problems are reduced and we meet the needs of children who don't respond well to traditional teaching methods. By recognising and developing our children's range of multiple intelligences, we are preparing all our pupils to become the best that they can be and to live happy and successful lives.

 

 

Dr. Mark Starbuck
Head of School

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14th November, 2016

I love Greek mythology and believe that our pupils benefit greatly from learning about ancient Greek gods and the myths surrounding them. Greek mythology introduces our pupils to beliefs which may be different from their own and helps them to connect the past with the present.

Athena is my favourite Greek goddess. She was the goddess of strategic warfare and a patron of heroic endeavour, but she used judgement and creativity to achieve her goals. Athena preferred to come up with a plan of action rather than to charge aimlessly into battle. She would fight ardently for causes she believed in but resorted to brutality only when all else had failed. Athena encouraged the use of logic and debate to resolve disputes and insisted on fair play.

The goddess Athena loved to try new things, especially those that would make people's lives easier and better. Her creativity resulted in the invention of the flute, the rake and the plough. Athena learned from her failures as well as her successes. At Byron College, we teach pupils to view their failures as opportunities for learning. We encourage our pupils to come up with creative solutions for challenges.

Athena shows us how much can be achieved through passion, creativity and careful planning. She reminds us to be fair in our dealings with others and to use our strengths to benefit humanity. By developing these traits in our pupils, we are equipping them to become competent leaders in the complex world in which they will live and work.

At Byron College, we want all our pupils to dream big and work hard towards achieving their goals. We teach our pupils how to be fair and compassionate towards others. We motivate our pupils to use their strengths and talents to make our world a better place to live.

Dr. Mark Starbuck
Head of School

 

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17th October, 2016

I am absolutely fascinated by the research conducted by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck. In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she identified two distinct mindsets: 'fixed' and 'growth'. These mindsets affect our potential, fuel our behaviour and are accurate predictors of the levels of success we will achieve in life.

At Byron College, we focus our teaching on enabling all our pupils to become the best that they can be. We instill the belief in every pupil that they can achieve anything they want to through commitment, hard work and sheer determination to succeed. Our pupils learn that they can achieve anything they can dream if they are determined enough and apply sufficient effort. They learn to welcome difficulties as opportunities for learning and to view lack of success as goals not yet achieved rather than as failures.

We aim to foster a lifelong passion for learning by teaching our pupils that they can always improve. We motivate our pupils to set themselves new challenges and constantly stretch themselves. We teach our pupils how to overcome setbacks and to view failures as positive opportunities for growth. Pupils are encouraged to ask for help when needed.

The teachers at Byron College recognise effort and hard work and praise pupils who demonstrate determination and perseverance. We know that resilient pupils with a growth mindset will push themselves to learn new and difficult things. Our pupils' confidence and personalities will develop as they sharpen their skills and learn to work smarter. This will result in higher achievements and greater levels of success.

 

Dr. Mark Starbuck

Head of School

 

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