Head’s Blog: V is for Vulnerability (or, an alternative Christmas message)

Driving home for Christmas

I can’t wait to see their faces

Chris Rea

Driving Home for Christmas


I’ll be singing this song all the way down to Kent in the car this year, where I’ll be spending Christmas for the first time in a while with all my family, in the place where I grew up as a child.  

I’m looking forward to sharing Christmas dinner with them and exchanging gifts but more than anything, I’m looking forward to catching up on the times we have missed together over the last few years.

As we continue to navigate the impact of the pandemic (and who would have thought we’d still be saying that almost three years on), and in a time of economic uncertainty, even the retailers seem to agree that Christmas should less about the material things in life this year and more about its true meaning of fellowship and good will to all.  

As a school, we recently invested in the Wellbeing Hub, a fantastic resource that, as well as providing age-appropriate, expert advice on a whole range of topics, also promotes self-care and wellbeing.

This Christmas, I have taken inspiration from the Wellbeing Hub and have joined our staff in asking students – and other members of our community – to make a pledge from the A-Z of Wellbeing.

The basic idea is that we all pick a letter, all of which stand for something related to wellbeing, and do something over the Christmas break to support ourselves, and potentially others, in this essential respect.

I have chosen V for vulnerability.

Why, you might well ask, and how will that make me feel good? After all, who in their right mind would deliberately want to feel vulnerable and put themselves at risk of some type of harm?

Because I believe that showing vulnerability can actually be a real demonstration of strength. It allows us to be our authentic selves, it makes it easier for us to say what we really feel and because of those two things it usually benefits those close to us as well.   

So, during Christmas dinner, at some lull in the conversation I am going to put down my knife and fork and tell my family how much I have missed them over recent years and that I love them.

I won’t find this easy. Like many men, I don’t find it particularly easy to express my emotions in this way and it certainly isn’t what my family will be expecting me to say. There may follow a rather awkward silence, some stilted coughing and prolonged staring at plates.

But as well as making me feel good in the moment (and mightily relieved), I think that my family will appreciate it and I hope it will make it easier for me to be vulnerable in the future; to express my emotions, to ask for help when I need it and admit when I’m struggling a bit, as we all do from time to time.

Mrs Sumner has chosen W for Walking. Even though she already exercises regularly, she knows that a big dose of fresh air, morning light and exercise will super-charge her energy levels and wellbeing for the rest of the day.

Mr Bircham has chosen T for Tech-free so that he can spend more time in the moment over the holidays and make the very most of the time he spends with family and friends.   

All students in the Senior School and Sixth Form have signed up to the Wellbeing Hub and we hope that they will take inspiration from staff and make a wellbeing pledge of their own.

During the holidays, young people don’t always access their support network of tutors, friends, counsellors, in the same way so having a way to help themselves and practise self-care is more important than ever. 

If you haven’t signed up for the Wellbeing Hub as a parent, give yourself a Christmas present that will keep on giving, and do it.

As well as the A-Z to help you have a healthier Christmas, there is a wealth of information, all from experts and all age-appropriate and trustworthy, that you can turn to if you need it. Not just over Christmas, but all year round.

So, this Christmas, which letter will you choose?