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Message from the Head of Primary: Confidence and Optimism

27 October 2020

A message from the Head of Primary, Alan Cocker.

  • alan

Whilst standing at the school gate, it has been wonderful to be able to welcome everyone back after what I hope has been a restful half term.  As confidence grows in the rigorous safety procedures the school has implemented, even more students are choosing to come back into school to continue their learning.  Whilst pondering the reasons for this increase, it got me thinking about the word confidence. It is used so widely and even flippantly. Confidence plays a large part in our ability to perform and to learn. We like to feel good about our learning, we like to feel we can do it, that we are as good as we think we are and as good as we want others to see us. 

Some people shine with an abundance of confidence and seem to sail through whatever each day may bring. It is like they are born with confidence, having more than others. Those who are full of confidence become unstoppable, taking on an almost invincible aurora. Take last season’s Liverpool football team for example – success was almost guaranteed. Alternatively, those low on confidence, especially in the sporting world are often easily written off. Unfortunately, when we realise we might be running low on confidence, it’s not something we can stock up on. We can’t add it to our weekly shop at Carrefour or pop into ADNOC and refill our confidence tank.

There is good news though.  Confidence is something that can be grown. It can be developed and enhanced. One aspect that helps us to grow our confidence is seeing the success of those we surround ourselves with. This is called ‘vicarious experience’. We look to others around us and see that things are working out ok for them, their choices and actions are successful. This can lead us to believing that we too can have similar outcomes. This is used very effectively in sporting teams and many organisations who share, celebrate and notice success. Being near to those who are successful can literally help others to achieve even greater things.

A perfect example of this is when I recently tried off-road desert driving for the first time. Watching others successfully drive their cars over the dunes gave me the confidence to have a go despite my nerves and concerns of getting it wrong.  I got some bits right and I made some errors along the way, another important aspect of growing confidence – expect to make mistakes – it is ok. 

Physical preparation can also boost confidence and help increase performance. Physical preparation is about our physical self – do we look and feel the part? Wearing the right clothes, having that extra spring in your step because of the sport shoes you wear, knowing your driver is new and built to hit the ball a long way or just feeling good in a new football shirt can all help us to look and feel the part. Experience is another key enabler of confidence. Knowing we have demonstrated our ability before or achieved something helps us to realise we can do to it again. The more we try, the more we increase our chances of success. Practice really does make perfect. 

So, as I draw this week’s message to a close, I find myself feeling very optimistic despite the challenging times we are living in. We all have the power to keep learning, improving and moving forward in order to succeed in whatever we are aiming for.  We can build our own confidence and increase our own chances of success. More importantly we can influence our children’s confidence and their chances of success by helping them to recognise success in themselves and each other. We can help them to look and feel the part and by encouraging them to have a go, to practice, to fail and to try again the possibilities for them could be endless.  

Alan Cocker

Head of Primary