Nord Anglia Education
Nord Anglia
13 September, 2023

Message from the Head of Secondary

Message from the Head of Secondary - Message from the Head of Secondary
Message from the Head of Secondary

This place.

There is a song currently being played on the radio called ‘This Place’ by a young man from Liverpool called Jamie Webster. It’s a modern rendition of an old folk tradition in which singers tell us about their hometown and how much it means to them. 

I’m not from Liverpool but I know it well and the song has seeped into my consciousness, buried itself in my thoughts.  This place.  Place matters.

The writer Rebecca Solnit wrote that ‘’a sense of place is a sixth sense, an internal compass and a map made by memory…’’. I like the notion of a sense of place being a sixth sense. Like our other senses, a sense of place is always with us, even if we forget about it for a while or take it for granted. Whether we feel ‘at home’, or ‘a million miles from home’, that feeling comes from a sense of place, or of displacement from the place that we have strong memories of. 

Many of our students at BIS Abu Dhabi have been displaced in some form or another and the very many new students in our school are perhaps feeling that displacement strongly just now. Moving house, moving countries, changing schools, making new friends…these are challenging things to do for children of any age and it is vital that as parents and educators we do our utmost to replace any negative feelings about displacement with a strong sense of belonging to a new community here in Abu Dhabi at BIS Abu Dhabi. We have long prided ourselves on the community that we offer at BIS Abu Dhabi and over the last two weeks, our coffee morning events have helped to remind us of how important we are to each other. We each ‘belong’ here.

For students in our school, this place matters a great deal. It is where their friends are, it is where they feel safe in classrooms with caring teachers, it is a place of support when things go wrong, a place that offers opportunities and fun. For the young people in our care Abu Dhabi and BIS Abu Dhabi are the places they will look back upon in years to come and when we consider our own happy memories of places in the past, we should aim to create the same happy memories of place here for our students.   

Such memories begin with the alarm clock, with putting on the uniform, with the ride to school, with the greeting at the school gate. The apparently exhausting climb up the stairs, the smell of the carpet and chairs in our classrooms. Digital boards, bad jokes by good teachers, pens, pencils, fits of laughter and light bulb moments as the learning penny drops. Lunchtime football, after school netball, singing, drumming, more laughter and the ride home.  This place teems with the opportunity to store another memory within our internal compass, a memory to help make this place a special place.  Almost like home.  This place.


Chris Lowe

Head of Secondary

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