Our recent Focus Week celebrated National Armed Forces Day at the Friary with an abundance of activities and visits in and out of school across year groups.

During the hottest week of the year, to celebrate the incredible work that the Armed Forces do, the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas invited year 9 students to spend the day touring the Arboretum site and reflecting on the sacrifices made by so many men and women; those who have lost their lives on duty or as an act of terrorism since the Second World War. The 25,000-acre woodland with over 400 memorials really is a site to behold and our students were exemplary. They took part in a 2-minute silence at 11am in the remembrance chapel and heard about how the 2 minutes silence came about after the First World War – one minute of thanksgiving for those who had returned safely and a second minute to remember the fallen.

Later in the week, volunteers from the Arboretum visited school to deliver assemblies to our students. They explained about the valuable work that they do and the projects they have planned for the future. The site is well worth visiting, and with the Summer holidays are nearly here, entry is free and there is a lot to see, take in and reflect on.

We were also extremely fortunate that The Mercian Regiment based at Whittington Barracks came into school for the day and led activities with our students. Students were taught about resilience, self-reliance, self-discipline and physical and mental strength. The soldiers were incredible and left all students inspired by their visit- they have offered to return and lead an outdoor event involving assault courses.

All service students were invited to come into school in their uniform on Thursday and were rightly proud of what it represented; Cadets, Guides’ St John’s Ambulance were all on show and we couldn’t have been prouder of them. I was most impressed with their student led assembly. The whole of Year 8 listened attentively to our uniformed students; they talked through what role they have in the services and why they do it – a valuable life skill to be able to articulate to others and each student who took to the stage during the assembly should be very proud of themselves. Special mention must go to Adam Perkins (Y8) and Isla McCaskie (Y9) who both organised the assembly and brought everyone together- a massive achievement.

Sophie Grigg, Assistant Headteacher, said: “We had a terrific week. Students listened to others, they learned from each other, they laughed alongside each other and now that it’s all over, we would like to do it all over again. We have excellent links with the armed forces in terms of carers but just as important is the chance to reflect on issues like mutual support, self-sacrifice and our debt to generations past. This special week covered all these themes.”