Head’s Update for the week beginning 2nd November 2020
I hope you have all had a wonderful half term. The children have returned to Mowden, rested and
refreshed, and we look forward to the run-up to Christmas. Celebrating Christmas in a Prep School is
truly special; full of wonder, excitement and joy. As I mentioned in my earlier update, I have held back
from cancelling any of the official School events. Given the recent announcements, it now seems
sensible to clarify our intentions regarding these. With deep regret, I have decided to cancel both the
Matfen Carol Concert and the end of term celebration at Hexham Abbey. I appreciate this will not come
as a surprise to many of you, but I am very disappointed that we will not be able to come together for
both of these important occasions.
I would like to reassure you that we are not resting on our laurels, and we are already discussing ways
we can mark these occasions, and share with parents via a recording. We will also be having internal
Remembrance Services in both the Pre-Prep and Prep School, next Wednesday. We will share photos of
these via our social media and website, but I am sorry we are not able to invite you to join us. In
addition, we will do our very best to make the children’s ‘Mowden Christmas’ experience as magical as
we possibly can.
Working at a school like Mowden is hugely rewarding for many reasons, most notably the opportunity
to know our children so well. No school is perfect, but the size of our school does allow us to pick up on
any problems quickly; this is key to ensuring a safe and secure environment for our children. You may
have read of the tragic death of a 12 year old girl from Cramlington who suffered significant mental
health problems, which her family believe were linked to severe bullying she suffered at her school.
Devastatingly, this resulted in her taking her own life last month.
Bullying exists in every school, and I would like to take this opportunity to reassure you that we take a
very serious approach to the way we deal with bullying at Mowden. In my career I have often come
across parents who still suffer the damage of being bullied when they were at school. They are
understandably deeply committed to ensuring their own children do not suffer the same experience.
The rawness of the emotions they still experience is almost tangible. I feel such sympathy for them, and
wish I was able to eradicate the damage done, but of course I can’t. What I can do is give firm
assurances that Mowden’s approach to dealing with bullying is both robust and rigorous - it will not be
tolerated in our school. Of vital importance is the need for us all to mean the same thing when we talk
about bullying. During our Assembly on Monday, I asked all of the Prep School classes to provide a
definition of bullying. Their response was heartening, and gave me confidence that our approach is
both effective and strong.
You will find an additional information leaflet attached to this email, which I hope will be helpful.
Should you ever have any concerns regarding this issue, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
The recent government announcement of a second lockdown has not impacted Mowden significantly,
as we have been operating under increased restrictions for some time. The Government has said that
residential providers should support students to reduce travel between home and educational
accommodation unless absolutely necessary. Where students normally travel between their boarding
school and home during term time for the purpose of education, this is allowed. Accordingly, it is
business as usual for us!
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. We will be celebrating Bonfire Night with the boarders - yet
another event we would normally enjoy together. Here’s to enjoying fireworks, a glorious bonfire and a
toffee apple together in 2021!
Mrs Kate Martin, Head