Headmasters Letter 9th February  2024
09 February 2024

Headmaster's Letter 9th February 2024

Dear Parents

It was Internet Safety Day on Tuesday, so I wanted to take this opportunity to mention to all parents the importance of keeping our children safe online. Sadly, amidst all the amazing opportunities that the online world provides (and it really does!), it remains perhaps the biggest threat to the happiness of children in modern society. 

Smartphones are arguably the device to be most wary of. The headlines have been dominated with real life examples of the dangers of smartphones and unfettered online access for children, and we are only now beginning to realise the scale of the impact. Behind the scenes, research study after research study across the world has produced the same results: smartphones, and by association, exposure to social media, is having a debilitating effect on children’s mental health and happiness. Yet incredibly, they are becoming more popular: a recent study showed that 65% of 8–11-year-olds in the UK now own a smartphone. 

Dumpton is thankfully, a no mobile phone school. However, we do understand the pressure on parents to provide children with what is becoming such a ubiquitous device. Our advice would be to hold strong, as long as you can. There is perhaps, some strength to be found from amongst your parent cohort in this regards... maybe some of you can be in the position to make a ‘pact’ to hold out as long as possible! 

If you do get your child a smartphone – and there are of course some very positive and legitimate reasons to do so – we would strongly advise two things. Firstly, ensure you have an agreement with your child that they are not old enough for that smartphone to be private, that you will check it regularly, and that you will have access to their device. Your child’s right to safety comes before their right to privacy. Secondly, please ensure that this device – in fact, any device which allows online access – is never accessible in children’s bedrooms at night.  

I know this has been a slightly sobering introduction to my letter today – but I make no apology for promoting this message loud and clear, because I feel very strongly it's in the best interests of all our children to do so. 

Music Scholarships  Onto far more positive news! We’re delighted to announce two Music Scholarships to Canford. Austin R and James B have been so dedicated to their music in their time at Dumpton, and we’re so proud and delighted about these significant achievements.    Summer Ball - Saturday 18 May  We have exciting news! Tickets for the Summer Ball will be available after half term, please see the attached invitation for more details. 

Night of Songs – Thanks from Izzy F-D, Y8 pupil  I just wanted to say thank you so much to everyone who came along to the fundraiser, it was a great evening and I really enjoyed it, and I hope you did too. The last updated total is £2,250, but I will give a final total after half term when the just-giving page is closed. Thank you again.  

Internet Safety Talks  This week we have been focusing on Children's Mental Health Week and Safer Internet Day; https://www.saferinternetday.org/, with Mr. Ashworth delivering assemblies and teaching lessons to the different age phases on how to behave online and how to spot positive and negative influences. The younger children have learnt the SMART rules about how to stay safe online and the older children are aware of the importance of respect and empathy both in real life and online. A big thank you to Harlow in Y7 who helped Mr Ashworth deliver the assembly to younger pupils today, sharing the dos and don’ts of staying safe online. 

If you would like to look through some resources related to Safer Internet Day, the BBC ‘Own It’ pages have a range of videos and quizzes that are entertaining and informative:  https://www.bbc.com/ownit/curations/safer-internet-day-2024  

If you would like more information about what is taught as part of Safer Internet Day please contact Mr. Ashworth; g.ashworth@dumpton.com 

Mental Health Week – From Miss Goodhew  We have been exploring Mental Health Week and especially the theme this year that 'My Voice Matters'.  The Pre-prep children shared in an assembly at the beginning of the week and were encouraged to produce their own 'spiral' of what matters to them. The children understand that we all have our own opinions, values, beliefs and feelings and we should feel supported to tell people how we feel and why we feel like we do.  Being able to do this adds to us feeling valued and included.  The children were all engaged in the topic and produced some thoughtful 'spirals' of their own.  Please look at our Instagram for lots of photographs. 

Sporting Fixtures v Walhampton  Match reports are attached from a very impressive week of Prep school fixtures against Walhampton. The children are making such fantastic progress – and most importantly, playing their Netball and Hockey in absolutely the right spirit: determined, resilient, collaborative – and always with sportsmanship put to the fore. We’re so proud of them all. 

Dumpton Talks  You should have seen some posters for this event which happens straight after half term – a different talk each morning after drop off, to which all of you (and any nearest and dearest) are welcome. There are some fascinating topics covered, all aimed at helping each of us be better prepared for parenting our children in an increasingly complex modern world. Book your places on the Dumpton Talks page of the school website: https://www.dumpton.com/dumpton-talks 

Calling all Netballers!  The Dumpton Mums’ Netball Team have a friendly game on Wednesday 21 February at 7.30pm in the Dumpton Sports Hall. They need a few more players. If interested, please contact friends@dumpton.com 

Lunchtime Concert There was a fabulous Informal Lunchtime Concert today with performers from Y3 right through to our Music Scholars in Y8. It is so lovely to see the children performing so confidently and making such progress with their instruments.

Attitude to Learning Reports  All prep school children had the opportunity to see their AtL grades from this term with their form tutors today. These can be accessed via the parent portal in the usual place.

With best wishes for a lovely half term break.

Christian Saenger Headmaster

February Half Term Holidays  Monday 12 February – Friday 16 February    Key Events Week Beginning 20/02/2024:     WEEK 7: Theme of The Week - The Dumpton Way  WEEK A    Dumpton Talks Week    Monday 19 February  8.30: Dumpton Talks Presents - Melissa Clinton 'Good Habits Give Good Outcomes'    Tuesday 20 February  Life Education Visit Pre-Prep & Y3  Coram Life Education Visit - PSHE Workshops  8.30: Dumpton Talks Presents - Harriet Perrett 'Bored and Brilliant: free the mind from technology to ignite creativity'  PM: Sports Fixtures (Y3-Y4) - please see Dumpton Sports Site for full details    Wednesday 21 February  Life Education Visit Pre-Prep & Y3   Coram Life Education Visit - PSHE Workshops  8.30: Dumpton Talks Presents - Tony Pulis 'What my career in football taught me about bringing up children'  PM: Sports Fixtures (Y5-Y8) - please see Dumpton Sports Site for full details    Thursday 22 February  Y7 & Y8 Exams  8.30: Prep School Assembly - Performing Arts & Sports Reports  8.30: Dumpton Talks Presents - Dr Alisha Azzopardi 'The Psychology of Motivation and Resilience in Children'  16.30: Y4 Parents' Evening (in person)    Friday 23 February  Y7 & Y8 Exams  8.30: Dumpton Talks Presents - Dr Preetpal S Bachra 'Parenting tweens and teens: Navigating a rapidly changing world' 


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