School isn’t always a place, is it? 

Schools are often referred to or thought about as the buildings, facilities or grounds and while these are important, they are not what makes a school.   What gets forgotten sometimes is that it is the staff, pupils and parents who make a school a school, and not the school buildings or facilities.  

I was reminded of this when I watched, and subsequently read, the animation created by Charlie Mackesy of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. The story, if you have not read or watched it, follows four characters who meet throughout the story in a bid to help the boy find a home. The characters are all different and have various talents, interests and perspectives, but through kindness and tolerance become friends. As the story progresses the characters all bring together their different skills, personalities and characters to help the boy eventually find a home. As the boy says goodbye to head to his home, he realises his home is just a place, and it is the friendships and relationships that he has made with the Mole, Fox and Horse are what makes a home and not actually the place.

Schools are about the pupils, the staff and the parents who form the school community, without them they are just empty buildings and grounds, all be it in Hatherop’s case empty beautiful buildings and grounds.  It is the children and adults who walk the corridors and play in the grounds that make a school.  It’s the relationships these members of the community have with each other, the friendships that are made and the sense of belonging being part of something, that make a school. 

However, when you have a large community like this it is natural for the relationships to go through different emotions and feelings. The large majority of the time the interactions with each other provide happiness, fulfilment and laughter. However, occasionally the personalities can clash and we do not all get on with each other. However, every member of a community will have talents and positive aspects to their character and when we experience difficulties in relationships, the default is for us to focus on the negatives and what is wrong with that person or character, rather than searching for the positive. We need to think like the mole in the Charlie Macksey’s book, he is not only wise, but also kind and straight away looks for the positive in others. His relationship with the fox is a very good example of this. The fox’s natural instinct is to kill the mole, but with bravery and courage the mole puts aside his feelings about the Fox and helps release him from the snare.

Ultimately for the four very different characters in the book to form friendships and to get along they all have to show tolerance, forgiveness and most importantly kindness and love.  It is these important character traits and values that bind the four characters together and what helps them form such strong friendships.  For a school community to thrive we all need to try to behave like the Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.   

We encourage our pupils display tolerance, forgiveness, kindness and love with each other and each member of the community to look for the positives in each other as this will help enrich and bind our community even more.  If I am honest, I feel we as adults also need to work harder on displaying these important values not only to model them to our children, but also to make our communities richer.  Ultimately, we all need to think like the Mole,  

‘Nothing beats kindness, it sits quietly beyond all things’