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HEAD ON… For the love of books

January 26th, 2016

Caroline Pascoe Head On - For the love of booksI recently heard the phrase ‘town and gown’ used to describe an independent school’s relationship within its community, and winced at how divisive it sounded. The stereotypical ‘them and us’ culture can be unnecessarily destructive, building walls between teachers, parents, pupils and local residents who, when united, can shine brighter than ever.

Here at the Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools, we are very proud of the strong ties we have forged with local schools. With only three senior schools in a small town, it is vital for us to work together, thus giving all of our students the opportunity to broaden their horizons and learn how to connect with people from all walks of life.

A constantly open line of communication between the schools has resulted in an invaluable working relationship. In an effort to actively break down barriers, we have a joint charity council. Most recently, we united to put on the town’s first literary festival which gave the pupils a chance to pool their contacts, energy, ideas and passion. This was an ambitious pupil-led initiative to bring some of our generation’s finest poets and authors into the town. Spread out over one week in June, the event involved the entire community and reached out to shoppers, pensioners, parents and teenagers alike.

More than 10 nearby schools were invited to attend readings, workshops and signings by various top writers, which worked to further strengthen existing relationships and cement new bonds within the county. The large-scale celebration of reading and writing, “raised the bar for literary festivals”, according to children’s author CJ Daugherty. This calibre of success would have been impossible to achieve for a solo school project. Feedback for the festival has been astounding, and I sincerely hope other schools can call upon our example to help unite their communities.

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