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As we end one year and start another, there are inevitably reflections and projections aplenty. I read this paragraph recently…

We are certainly living in tumultuous times: Brexit and the decline of the West, Trump, Putin and the continued rise of political and religious extremism, the challenge of global warming and the disruptive and exponential growth of technology that will undoubtedly present enormous opportunities and social policy challenges in equal measure. Opportunity and uncertainty will perhaps be the buzzwords of 2017 and possibly for the foreseeable future.

‘Gosh’, I thought: I’ll leave you to ponder it all further at your leisure.

I was thinking this is likely to be the last time I’ll say/write Happy New Year for 2017 – we are well into double figures in January after all – but then we have the Year of the Rooster just around the corner on January 28 as the Chinese New Year ticks over. I trust you found some time to relax and fully embrace time with family and friends over the last few weeks: it is so nice to look almost entirely inwards as external factors almost grind to a halt, albeit briefly!

Last week, included in our termly INSET training, we had a really positive session on Mental Health First Aid. Hearing the Prime Minister then bring this issue to the fore on Monday and, amongst other measures, talk about wanting to put more training on Mental Health in schools was heartening both because it is clearly in need of profile raising and because we seem to be hopefully ahead of the curve.

In some more glib manifestations involving a psychologist’s couch you might hear in your mind the phrase ‘Tell me about your childhood’ trip off a casual tongue. There was regular reference in our training, from case studies as evidence, that those who experience some level of mental uncertainty in later life can very often relate their current frame of mind to a formative experience from their youth that wasn’t resolved satisfactorily. The trainer was clearly painting a scenario where the framework, quality of relationships and openness within them during the youngest years of our lives strongly influence our Mental Health, resilience and, crucially, the confidence to share our state of mind in the future. As with many things, early help/intervention is the most effective prevention of escalation and so it was terrific to enhance our collective understanding.

So, we step into 2017 aiming to continue putting as many pieces together to allow the children and adults involved in the King’s Hall community to have fun, be happy, confident and make the most of themselves and each other in the months ahead and I look forward to seeing you at many events this term. Is the Quiz in your diary, for example?

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