This is the Headteacher's Blog which was first featured in issue 1 of The Burfordian, published on Friday 22 September 2023.
Before the Summer Break, our wonderful library team chose books for teachers to take away on loan with them during the break. So, in the final week of term, I received a gift-wrapped present from Mrs Howard and eagerly opened it to see what had been chosen for me. The Alchemist is a relatively short book and is easy to read when translated from its original language, Portuguese. The story follows a young shepherd, Santiago, on a journey from Spain to Egypt searching for his treasure, or personal legend as it is described in the book.
Along the way our protagonist meets several characters who provide guidance to him, steering his way of travel and thinking. A fortune-teller, having heard Santiago’s dream about treasure in Egypt, sets the young shepherd on his path via Morocco. From Morocco Santiago begins his journey, encountering among others, a glass maker, an Englishman, an old man (who turns out to be a King), a young girl with whom he falls in love and, of course, the Alchemist. I do not want to give away specifics of the story, that would remove the joy of reading the book. The following quotes should provide enough of a teaser to encourage you to seek out a copy and read the book yourself. They, among a raft of very quotable aphorisms, provide a firm foundation on which to guide young people, or anyone for that matter, in their lives.
“There is one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.”
“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”
“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”
In my assembly last week, I directly referred to The Alchemist, when talking about belonging and having belief in dreams. Students at Burford belong to a wider family that seeks to Respect each other, Participate with each other and Reach alongside each other to be the best versions of themselves. Along the way, for each student to find out and fulfil their dream there will be leaps and falls. And, as The Alchemist tells us, knowing how to get back up from the falls is as important as celebrating the leaps.
We welcome everyone to school this Autumn Term and wish you the very best for the coming year.