Welcome back to term three, after what I hope was a refreshing break for you and your families. Typically when I go into work during the holidays, I find school an unnervingly quiet place. For me, school comes alive when there are students, however, as you will have noticed, the school was anything but quiet during the holidays.
For one thing, the campus was regularly full of students heading off or returning from our ConnECT, Thailand and Expressive Arts trips. All three of these were huge successes and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the large numbers of staff who voluntarily gave up their holidays in order to make sure these trips could go ahead. (I would also like to point out that of those staff, many were from our Performing Arts team—a team who have only just recovered from the epic production of Peter Pan!) Opportunities such as those offered by ConnECT, Thailand and the UK trips are vital to the life of Emmanuel. We pride ourselves on being a school seeking to equip our students not just ‘to know’ but also ‘to serve’. Further, we
base our entire educational approach on the deep belief that every child has been ‘wonderfully made’ in the image of a creative, expressive and relational God. So trips like these that offer genuine, real-world opportunities to learn, serve and create are an essential part of what makes us Emmanuel.
However, the trips were not the only reason for the activity on campus. The holiday work began in earnest as the first phase of our Senior School building project commenced. This involved not only the demolition of the old E-block but the relocation and re-building of our cricket nets, the beginning of the building of our new centre for Year 7s and the teaching of what has become known here at Emmanuel as the GLASS subjects: Government, the Liberal
Arts, Society and Spirituality.
These are subject areas which are currently given less press than the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths areas (something which is somewhat ironic, because it is the politicians and the press who, in speaking so much about STEM are causing the apparent drop off
in interest in GLASS—yet, without the GLASS subjects, neither politicians nor the press would exist!) However, the GLASS subjects are essential. Indeed, I believe, the STEM subjects must go hand in hand with GLASS.
As literature from Frankenstein to 1984 and Brave New World have illustrated time and time again, science, technology, engineering, and maths will certainly be the engines that drive potential change in the future. However, not all those potential engines will be for the good, and it will still be our understanding of society, of history, of the human spirit, and of our relationship to one-another, creation and God that will enable us to choose wisely
between those options. To put it another way, it will be our ability to think and act morally and our entrepreneurial ability to adapt creatively to the possibilities raised by STEM that will determine whether our future is happy, prosperous and sustainable or not.
So it is not pure coincidence that as we begin to invest in re-designing our approach to STEM, we are also investing in the GLASS subjects. That investment promises to be very exciting because not only will the new building make for an impressive addition to the school’s architecture, but by extending it over the space that was formerly occupied by the (now very tired) cricket nets, our architects have been able to design a structure that will provide us with
eight, state-of-the-art learning spaces, each with its own accompanying outdoor space, as well as office space for staff, a huge Year 7 area, and numerous ‘flexible spaces’— rooms in which non-traditional, experiential, hands-on, creative learning can thrive.
This building work will, of course, lead to disruption—the Fete, for example, will be squeezed into a smaller space this year—and it will from time-to time make Senior School drop-offs, pick-ups and parking less easy, but it will ultimately be hugely beneficial. For this reason, the campus felt anything but quiet this holiday and it will be all the better for that. I wish you all a