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Autumn Edition September 2015

AVANTI L I F E The official newsletter of the avanti schools trust

Young Yogis

How mindfulness is impacting the lives of our young people in profound ways

ALSO IN this issue Reflections from Krishna Avanti's first graduates An Avanti school comes to croydon the Compassionate hearts of Avanti House Technology – Can we really keep up with kids?

From the Editor Have you ever suffered from writer's block? Silly question. I have – for the past five minutes in fact, until from out of nowhere I remembered a film I watched a while ago called 'Limitless', ironically about a writer whose chronic blockages now threatened his livelihood. The desperate protagonist takes advantage of a new 'smart drug'. Not only does he kick-start his creativity, but his previously stagnant life begins transforming in all sorts of entertaining ways. He's literally living the high life, though there are of course consequences, as what goes up will always come down. So what if there was a pill available that boosted our optimism, reinforced our self-perception, reduced our anxiety and depression? If that sounds similar to pills already available, there's more! This new pill would also motivate your latest health regime, improve your social skills, and what's most pertinent to this publication, improve a host of learning skills, such as faster information processing, greater focus, more effective working memory, more creativity and for good measure, enhanced cognitive flexibility (you'll have to take the pill to figure out what the last one is).

However, if you're like me, you would have already consulted Dr. Internet and read up on the side-effects, deciding that it was indeed, too good to be true. This issue's article entitled 'Young Yogis' delves deep into the natural, side-effect free alternative, now known as 'mindfulness'. While it is a buzzword, it's far from new. Meditation, yoga, reflection, philosophical introspection and questioning, all are long standing practices of the Eastern spiritual traditions. Avanti Schools Trust have found some innovative ways to weave these into daily classroom culture, with amazing results, that I witnessed for myself. These techniques are arriving into Avanti classrooms at a critical time, as current research shows that mental health problems, which are on the rise and far more widespread than we like to admit, must be tackled much earlier in life. But besides safeguarding against the negative possibilities, we want our Avanti graduates to leave us with confidence of character (our article on page 12 will introduce you to many such 'characters'!) having already realised that their potential is naturally limitless. We want to equip them with all the skills that society today demands, including of course, the Avanti answer to writer's block. Wishing you a most mindful reading experience.

Matthew Whitlock | Editor | Avanti Life – The official newsletter of the Avanti Schools Trust

Avanti Life Magazine brings parents and community the very best of what’s happening within our family of schools – the events, the achievements, the vision – and the pupils, educators and friends behind it all. We open the doors on all four Avanti schools, offering a personal view of the life and culture within. We share exciting developments, innovations in teaching and insightful articles from experts in our schools and from our wider community. Avanti Life illustrates our commitment to providing young people the very best in values-led education. We capture the bigger picture, reporting on four unique schools that share a universal ethos.

Avanti Schools Trust is a family of state-funded Hindu faith schools that draw on the teachings of Krishna Chaitanya. Our schools promote three core ideals of educational excellence, character formation and spiritual insight. An inclusive approach to spirituality means that at all Avanti Schools, students of any faith or none are welcome. The Trust work to support and assist schools in key areas such as: character and ethos, quality assurance, school improvement, curriculum, management and training. The Trust central office is located at the Krishna Avanti Primary School in Edgware.

Staff contributors Matthew Whitlock Mark Bennison Deborah Walters Shriti Pandya Jacqui Gerrald Tulsi Kanbi Aarti Devalia Dr. Graham M. Schweig Shyam Prasad Student contributors Dru Thaker cover image Avanti Court Primary School, Redbridge

Avanti Schools Trust is a private company limited by guarantee, and an exempt charity, registered in England and Wales under company registration number 07506598 with registered address: Camrose Avenue, Edgware, Middlesex, HA8 6ES. VAT registration number: 122 8491 20

Design and Layout Matthew Whitlock published termly by Avanti Schools Trust visit us at general enquiries avanti life enquiries © 2015 Avanti Schools Trust All rights reserved.

Contents 2 Young Yogis An ancient esoteric art has finally found its way into mainstream classroom practice, and the results are enlightening for all.

6 What is Mindfulness? Whether young or old, the benefits of mindfulness on mental health are abundant, but don't just take our word for it.

8 Govinda's goes Gourmet


Shyam Prasad is a new member of the Govinda's Gang. He tells us of the appetising adventures that led him to catering for kids.

10 Their Futures, Not Our Pasts The younger generation have grown up within a tech-obsessed society. What can teachers do to keep up with the kids of today?

12 Journey Through Krishna Avanti


Our first batch of Year 6 Avanti graduates fly the nest. They share very personal accounts of what they will take with them.

16 Campaigning with Compassion The Nepal earthquake disaster in April pulled the heartstrings of an entire school and prompted a charitable chain reaction.

19 Respect! Accomplished young writer Dru Thaker turns rhyme into rap and lets us know that respect is where its at.


20 Colleague Spotlight Avanti Court Primary is everything a community school should be, so who better to lead it than a stalwart Redbridge educator.

20 Krishna Avanti comes to Croydon The Avanti family announces the upcoming arrival of a long awaited member – Krishna Avanti Croydon.


21 Layered Learning Mark Bennison has devised a faculty structure which aims to inspire creative learning, avoiding the effects of subject 'silos'.

22 The Three Essential Forms of Yoga Scholar Dr. Graham M. Schweig analyses the three primal ingredients found in many of the forms of yoga seen today.


Young YogiS Young

The curriculum subject 'Philosophy, Religion & Ethics' is unique to Avanti schools. Its emphasis on critical thinking and mindfulness make it ground breaking and ahead of its field, by introducing Eastern methods of meditation and thought to tackle modern day social problems. I visited Avanti Court to witness the subject in practice, by its young practitioners. Article by Matthew Whitlock 2


India has long been a land of great mystery to the people of Britain – its customs and traditions appearing completely different to their own; often confounding the linear western mind.

and blood pressure, plus tackle addictions, depression and other complex mental health problems. Dabbled with for decades on the fringes of society, meditation and yoga were treated with skepticism, casting stereotypes of their supporters. The exotic trappings and esoteric terminology surrounding the ‘art’ of these practices obscured its universal, cross-cultural value, and were possibly responsible for its late recognition as a credible psychological therapy. Mindfulness thus travels with self-confidence along its destined path to endorsement. One stamp of approval comes from 'The Mindfulness Initiative' – an advocacy project formed

combined the results from 15 studies and almost 1800 students from the UK, Australia, Canada, India, the US and Taiwan. The research showed meditation is beneficial in most cases and led to three broad outcomes for students: higher well-being, better social skills and greater academic skills. "Students who were taught meditation at school reported higher optimism, more positive emotions, stronger self-identity, greater self-acceptance and took better care of their health as well The British occupation of India as experiencing reduced anxiety, began with this fascination. stress and depression. This was Captivated by its abundance of compared to before the meditation priceless treasures, its obsession programs and compared to peers with fabrics and fragrances, herbs who were not taught meditation. and spices, gold and jewels took "The review also showed that hold – still fed to this meditation helps the day by trade with India. “Teaching mindfulness to young people gives them social life of students Besides Indian foods, by leading to increases crucial tools to deal with the pressures of life. fabrics and finery, what in pro-social behaviour else, since the days of the It’s empowering, and once they know how to do (like helping others) and Raj, has been exported it, they can draw on it whenever they need to.” decreases in anti-social from India, and adopted Claire Kelly, behaviour (like anger eagerly by the west? and disobedience). Not surprisingly, it is of writers, journalists, teachers, "Finally, meditation was found perhaps the more sophisticated professors, psychologists and to improve a host of academic and subtle of Indian exports that psychiatrists. Their aim: to increase and learning skills in students. has been last to exert its influence. awareness of how mindfulness These included faster information The British love affair with Oriental can benefit society. The Initiative processing, greater focus, more opulence has blossomed into ( effective working memory, more a far deeper, more meaningful uk) is currently collaborating creativity and cognitive flexibility." relationship, that now explores with parliamentarians, the media the very heart of Indian thinking. and policy makers to write a Mindfulness as a way of report named Mindful Nation life at Avanti Schools Welcome to the New Age UK; one area of inquiry being Philosophy, Religion and Ethics Meditation and yoga is education, contemplating: can is a curriculum subject unique to mainstream. What was once mindfulness in schools influence Avanti schools. PRE (Philosophy, ‘hip’ or ‘mind-blowing’ in the classroom behaviour, attention Religion & Ethics) is the RE offering 60’s, and ‘mental’ or ‘mad’ in and focus, help raise educational from Primary through to Year 9. It the 90’s has finally reached standards and support social comprises learning from and about ‘common sense’ status in 2015. mobility, and develop young different faiths, alternative belief For committed practitioners, people’s tools for well-being? systems and philosophic theories the path to endorsement has An article published 30th and approaches to asking and been just as difficult as their June 2015 in the Independent answering the ‘big’ questions in path to enlightenment, but now, declares yes it can, highlighting life. Whilst rooted in the Chaitanya with increased scientific backing research conducted in the Hindu tradition, the intention is to from respected neuroscientists UK and across the world: learn comparatively, so that there is and psychiatrists, the UK "Research in the fields of dialogue about the similarities and government has been forced psychology, education and differences across different faiths to evaluate the long-term neuroscience shows teaching and other world-views, including benefits of mindful meditation meditation in schools is humanist, naturalist and atheist. to our society as a whole. having positive effects on The style and methods used Implementation on a wider students' well-being, social to teach the subject ensure a scale would not be limited to skills and academic skills. broad and balanced exploration relaxing or enhancing wellbeing "A recent meta-review of the of philosophies and religions. – mindfulness is now being used impact of meditation in schools Interestingly, many of the to reduce fatigue, hypertension AVANTI SCHOOLS TRUST |


Hare Krishna chant. Teachers curriculum aims align perfectly watched on, clapping and with those of other groups singing, beaming with pride, campaigning for mindfulness infected by the happiness of to be taught in schools. “Children suffer stress and the scene – the school hall Avanti Schools Trust anxiety. Frighteningly, the transforming before our concur that mindfulness: average age for first onset eyes into a temple with • promotes spiritual, of depression is 13. They pick up attached dance floor! moral and mental stress and mood from their parents and Worship of the school’s well-being, and resident deities was in full teachers. If everybody around them is social and cultural swing – Dravit guiding a development within anxious, they become the same.” group of children as they the school and Danny Penman, author of made offerings of flowers wider community ‘Mindfulness: Finding and lamps. Yogesh picks • develops learners’ sense Peace in a Frantic World’ up the tempo – singing of self and identity to louder, faster, beating the empower them to achieve drum harder, much to the excellence academically delight of the children, whose and personally, ready for their dance moves now include upheld next phase of learning in life. arms and leaps into the air. While Avanti Schools Trust are Once each year group had filed actively implementing techniques better equipped to understand out of the hall, I follow Tulsi to her for mindfulness and philosophical how others think and accept class. She seats children around a enquiry, researchers elsewhere that these opinions are valid.” central carpet and pods of peas are in the UK are building the case passed around. Children are very that subjects similar to the Avanti Meditation for young minds quiet and very intrigued – as am I! PRE be introduced to mainstream At Avanti Court, the research Just as the pace increased during education. The Education theories of psychiatrists have been the kirtan, the atmosphere now Endowment Foundation (EEF) in practice for some time, yielding settles as children begin relaxing has funded research that shows incredible results. I visited the and concentrating. The session philosophy sessions improve school to see for myself, invited begins with relaxation techniques pupil learning. The evaluation by Tulsi Kanbi, a Year 1 class no different to what you might ran from January to December teacher and lead person for the encounter during a yoga class for 2013. Teachers were trained to PRE curriculum. I arrived just in adults. Backs are straight, hands deliver classroom sessions called time to observe Tulsi and fellow resting on knees, eyes tightly shut. Philosophy for Children (P4C). teacher Dravit Kooricch delivering Without a trace of giggling or even On average, pupils received one a whole school assembly, with a smirk, children are clearly at ease period of P4C per week. A total of a charisma and chemistry akin and already ‘in the moment’. 48 schools participated, and while to children’s TV co-presenters. they were in many ways diverse, as When it was kirtan time and the Time for reflection a whole they had above-average school musicians had assembled Tusli asks that they begin by levels of disadvantaged pupils. (business manager Yogesh on lead smelling the pea pod, asking It was found that maths and vocals and drum), the hall erupted what it reminds them of. “Grass”, reading scores improved by an with excitement as children jumped “outdoors”, “nature”, “flowers” are average of two months after pupils to their feet and began dancing some of the thoughtful responses. took part in the study. The change and singing along to the sacred Smirks and shocked expressions was greater for disadvantaged do emerge when Tulsi asks that pupils, with their reading skills they take a bite and chew very improving by four months and their slowly, contemplating what the maths results by three months. flavour is like. Tiny nibbles follow, Alexia Fox, assistant some reluctant, some brave, headteacher at one of the but everybody gives it a try, participating schools said the trial commenting on the juiciness and had “made a huge difference to crunchiness, many appreciating the way our children interact with the sweet, earthy flavour. Despite each other. In the playground, the initial hesitation, when Tulsi the pupils can talk about their permits eating of the whole pea disagreements. They now respect pod, all are promptly consumed! other children’s points of view. She then asks children to think In the classroom, their ideas are about what they feel grateful for. far more developed as they are Gratitude is one of 6 values that 4


are central to the Avanti school’s ethos, each pervading school life – not just as concepts or ideas, but as tools that influence behaviour and learning in profound and practical ways. Without prompt or guidance, children volunteer their thoughts, presenting clearly and with structure. “I’m grateful for having a house to live in. I feel lucky, because some people don’t have homes and they have to live on the street in the wind and the rain.” “I’m grateful to be alive. Some people aren’t lucky because they might get ill and die young.” “I’m grateful for having food to eat. My family give me food everyday, but some people don’t even have enough money to buy food.” “I’m grateful for my teachers, because I can learn new things. Without teachers, I wouldn’t learn anything.” Tulsi adds that parents teach children too, so we should be grateful to our parents as well. Tulsi later shares stories with me that illustrate mindfulness in action, some relaying ways in which teachers communicate values to children; others of children communicating them amongst themselves and even at home. Astonishing improvements in learning, behaviour, motivation, even conscious efforts not to waste food or alternatives to managing frustration or anger. Offering a values-centred rationale

to a child is now commonplace within the school. Tulsi believes the curriculum is pioneering, and this conviction enthuses her work to devise lesson plans and resources that are now shared across all Trust schools. More than just a teacher of PRE, her personal affection for the subject itself is apparent. She concludes by telling me that this is not a historical account of a particular religious tradition – these lessons offer practical tools that will remain relevant and useful throughout the life of an Avanti student. Meeting the urgency for healthy minds The world is opening its mind to mindfulness, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The Mental Health Foundation (www. report UK statistics from 2004/5 that show: • One in ten children between

the ages of one and 15 has a mental health disorder. • Research suggests that 20% of children have a mental health problem in any given year, and about 10% at any one time. • Rates of mental health problems among children increase as they reach adolescence. Disorders affect 10.4% of boys aged 5–10, rising to 12.8% of boys aged 11–15, and 5.9% of girls aged 5–10, rising to 9.65% of girls aged 11–15. Intervening – without the use of medication – to reduce the risk of anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide in young people must begin at an early age, forming positive mental habits that become second nature. Dr Nilamani Gor, a PRE curriculum writer and volunteer teacher for the trust, who has been involved in the design and delivery of the PRE curriculum, says of mindfulness: “It is a skill that trains our children to be emotionally robust; fully present and resourceful in the face of daily challenges. Being mindful empowers them to be confident and bring their higher self to all that they do.” If we consider the many ways in which our society has been enriched by centuries of trade with India, we might one day place mindful meditation above our uncontested love for its cuisine. Food for thought perhaps?



What is Mindfulness? Extract from The Oxford Mindfulness Centre (

Mindfulness is an integrative, mind-body based training that enables people to change the way they think and feel about their experiences, especially stressful experiences. Mindfulness: • pays attention to thoughts, feelings and body sensations to become directly aware of them, and better able to manage them; • has deep roots in ancient meditation practices and also draws on recent scientific advances; • is of potential value to everybody to help find peace in a frantic world.

Scientific studies find: • changes in those areas of the brain associated with decision-making, attention and empathy in people who regularly practice meditation; • that meditation improves people’s attention, job performance, productivity and satisfaction; • that meditation regulates the emotions, increases blood flow, and protects people at risk of developing hypertension: it also reduces the risk and severity of cardiovascular disease.

People who have learned mindfulness: • experience long-lasting physical and psychological stress reduction; • discover positive changes in well-being; • are less likely to get stuck in depression and exhaustion, and are better able to control addictive behaviour.

It sounds simple, but it is remarkably hard to do. Especially in our modern task-focussed lives we don’t know how to pay wise attention to what we are doing, so we miss whole swathes of our lives, and easily get caught in over-thinking – damaging our well-being and making us depressed and exhausted. 6


Parent Perspective Here's one of many accounts of how Avanti Court is making a huge difference to the well-being of its pupils, and where better to recieve positive feedback than from a parent (note: pupil's name has been changed).

To the Headteacher, This is just a short email to express my gratitude and thanks for all of the hard effort displayed by your staff in relation to Johnny's behaviour and education at Avanti Court Primary School. Although Johnny is a charming, smart young boy, it is also fair to say that before he attended Avanti Court he demonstrated some behavioural difficulties which stood in the way of his learning. Such behaviour lead to me temporarily stoppingt employment to attend several meetings regarding SEN processing, as Johnny's learning was on a fast decline. In the end, I took the very difficult decision as a parent, with another child attending the same school, to remove him. If I am honest, I wasn't too keen on Avanti Court in the beginning, partly due to the lack of history. I felt I had no one to correspond with on a personal level, nowhere to really go to for a point of reference surrounding the school's ethics except for the school's own website. My main concern was how Johnny would fit in. In the end, I took a leap of faith and enrolled him in October with all my fingers and toes crossed. Johnny has been a pupil of Avanti Court for just over 4 months now and I can honestly say that he is a different child. In simple terms, descriptive words used for Johnny prior might of been: boisterous, naughty, uncontrollable. Now Johnny is described by friends and family as warm, polite and bright. Johnny is always eager to rush to school every morning, often telling me I'm making him late for meditation, which always makes me smile. I can see he enjoys playing with his peers and, more importantly, Johnny's new 'can do' approach to learning has made a complete 360° turn. He enjoys reading to me, he counts out all my money indicating where I am short, he listens to others when they talk and takes full accountability for his actions when he misbehaves, which is less often of late.  I could not be a prouder parent. Your school has taught my son ethics and values, to care for others and to want to do better as a young man himself. I am forever grateful. Please kindly extend my thanks to his class teachers. Thank-you!!



Shyam Prasad may be a new member of the Govinda's gang, but he's no stranger to gourmet cuisine. He tells us about the culinary crusades that came before cooking for our Avanti kids From 1997 until 1999 I worked in Yemen at the Sheraton Sana'a Hotel as an Indian chef. While there I also learnt about Yemeni cooking and spicing. For Avanti House secondary, I've included one of these dishes on the new menu – a Yemeni-style vegetable stew. Their spices are similar to what we use in India. In 2001 I moved to London and worked at Langham Hilton as Chef de Parties catering to groups of up to 500 people. Then as Senior Chef de Parties at the Ritz Hotel, running a ravioli bar, then the Durant Hotel London in a similar role. For a year I worked as a Kitchen Technician. I then worked at Wentworth Golf Club as Banquet Sous Chef. I had recently began taking my spirituality more seriously, and decided to become a practicing devotee of Krishna. With my new lifestyle I felt the need for a change of job and began working with a previous colleague, who was now Executive Chef at Le Cordon Blue Culinary School. I began looking for something that might better suit my spiritual principles, as I found handling meat very difficult since become a strict vegetarian. I tried setting up my own business, but without success. In 2009 I travelled to India, feeling quite unhappy about my struggle to find work in vegetarian catering. I decided that this should be the only type of work that I wanted. After I returned, I spent two months job hunting and living on an extremely tight budget. 8

Luckily, I came across a vacancy in The Greenhouse, a veggie restaurant in Tring, Hertfordshire (now known as Anusia Café). I was given an interview, but wasn't sure if I should take the job, but on the advice of friends at my local Krishna temple, I decided to go for it. Two months after starting, the owner wanted to shut down the restaurant, as his head chef was leaving and he wasn't very confident in running the restaurant alone. I had to convince him that


The delightfully daring Anusia Café (previously known as The Greenhouse) is an award winning veggie Mecca located on the charming Tring high street, and the training ground for Shyam to hone his skills in vegan and raw food cuisine.

I could run the restaurant – and I did! I worked in the Greenhouse from 2009 to 2013, then left and went to India for three years, but during that time, I developed my specialties in organic vegan and raw food. For example, I introduced dishes like kabocha pumpkin risotto, halloumi kebab with curried rhubarb sauce, Japanese-style falafel with pink pickled ginger and wasabi hummus on flat bread, beetroot keftadas, spiced chickpea and fetta cheese samosa with cherry tomato sauce, raw broccoli curry with parsnip rice, beetroot capriccio filled with cashew cheese, and deserts like raw chocolate torte with orange glaze, and vegan coconut panna cotta. We were very proud of our reputation as an ecofriendly restaurant, and for our achievements in the vegetarian sector, in fact, the Vegetarian Society awarded us Best UK Sustainable Restaurant and three gold stars. Also, among many other awards, the Which? Food Guide awarded us Best Veggie Food in Hertfordshire. I'm personally really interested in organic raw food and veganism, as a healthier way of life. I love cooking with homegrown vegetables and herbs, especially if they are grown in organic soil, and would love to see our schools growing ingredients for the Govinda's kitchens. I think it's a great way for children to learn about their relationship with nature.

You've met Govinda's chef Shyam Prasad – now try out one of his new recipes. Our Avanti students in Harrow will be enjoying this Malaysian mouth waterer during the Autumn term, so we hope you like it too!

Malaysian-Style Ingredients


350g fettuccine noodles (egg free) 3 tbsp cooking oil 1 tbsp ginger, grated ½ tsp yellow asafetida powder 2 hot green chilies, chopped 1 tsp crushed dry red chili 1 cup firm tofu, crumbled 3 stalks of bok choy, cut into thin strips and the leaves chopped 2 cups finely sliced cabbage 2 tomatoes, chopped 1½ cup bean sprouts 1 tsp turmeric powder ¼ tsp red chili powder 1½ tsp rasam powder 9–10 fresh curry leaves 1½ tsp salt

PREPARATION: 15 mins COOKING: 10 mins

Ser 2 a ve s: d + 2 ults kid s

Boil the noodles in water, according to the directions given on the packet. Drain the noodles and set aside. Heat the oil in a pan over a moderately high heat. Add the ginger, asafetida and chilies. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the tofu, cook for 3–4 minutes and then add the stalks of bok choy and cabbage. Stir-fry until the vegetables are tender-crisp. Add the tomatoes and cook until they turn pulpy. Add the bok choy leaves, bean sprouts and the remaining spices. Cook for another 2–3 minutes. Add the curry leaves, salt and combine with the prepared noodles. Serve hot.

One sphere where a savvy student can surpass a teacher is in their knowlege of new technology. Mark Bennison, Principal of Avanti House All-through School, reflects on the challenge teachers face.

Their futures Not our pasts I

frequently remind myself and the colleagues with whom I work that our challenge as teachers and school leaders is to prepare young people for ‘their futures; and not our pasts’. And yet so much of how we still work in schools – particularly in the recognition of the power of and the use of technology – does not resonate with this idea. As teachers, left to our own devices, we all too easily fall back into approaching teaching and learning in the same way as we were taught perhaps 10, 20, 30 or even 40+ years earlier. This is hardly appropriate. I started my own teaching career as a postgraduate trainee in 1982. Electronic calculators were just about finally replacing slide rules and logarithmic tables (many of you might have to “Google” these things to know what I am talking about). Blackboards and chalk (at least multicoloured I suppose) had not even been replaced by overhead transparency


projectors and the alcohol-infused ‘banda machine’ was as close as we got to photocopying. We were still showing 8mm film projections, although some schools afforded VHS players (yet others bought the superior technology – Betamax but wished later that they hadn’t). Over the past 30 years technology has transformed almost every aspect of our lives entirely – and yet, bizarrely, in schools, it is very often a case of schools spending large sums of public money on new technology, only


to fall back to using ‘electronic whiteboards’ like blackboards and the like. Similarly we see the world wide web being used as a short cut to download a one-sizefits-all solution to a teaching and learning challenge; by-passing the effort of teachers really thinking through what individual children at a particular stage of learning in a subject actually need in order to move that learning forward and hasten their progress. At the same time, we can also be guilty of completely forgetting and ignoring the broad and deep learning experiences our children are exposed to – the excellent, the incorrect and the very worrying – as they increasingly immerse themselves in technology (the iPhone or S6 in some of their pockets being far more powerful than desktop computers of less than 10 years ago). At Avanti House we shall set out to approach the implementation and use of IT in very different ways.

Insights from the Industry Joskos Solutions provide ICT services to all Avanti schools as well as working with many other schools to provide wraparound services that enable them to effectively embed the excellent use of ICT into teaching and learning. Abigail Haley, Educationalist at Joskos shares some practical ideas that can enable educators to use technology to its fullest potential: • Technology can only fully support effective classroom practice if staff are confident and competent in its use. In our experience, the most effective way to ensure this is to hold regular practical CPD (continuing professional development) workshops that are built into the culture of the school. Giving staff regular time to experiment and share good practice has been shown to be far more effective than one-off training courses taken in isolation. • Schools who involve staff and students in championing the use of ICT within teaching and learning benefit hugely from the process. Having a pool of ICT Champions who can support less confident users is a great approach to learning and sharing as well as giving them a real sense of satisfaction and a true voice in the development of the school. • We have found that 'technology sandpits' – areas in the school where new technologies are showcased – allow staff (and indeed students) to become comfortable with

new technologies at their own pace. For example, we have offered to provide 10 x Google Cardboard VR* sets to get the ball rolling within Avanti schools, enabling staff to experiment with ways in which virtual reality can bring learning to life. • At Joskos, we regularly ask our supply chain technology partners to enable schools to trial new technologies without any obligation. For example, we’ve been doing some great trials at schools with 3d printers and collaboration tools in the Google Apps for Education suite. • We are also keen to encourage our staff to share their learning from the schools that they regularly visit. For example, we are regularly asked to recommend curriculum software and Apps, and we have found that the best advocates are those teachers who are using them already and are able to give honest and unbiased feedback to other schools.

* Google Cardboard was introduced in 2014 for Android devices. It is a Virtual Reality platform intended to encourage interest and development in VR applications. It was created by two Google engineers in their "Innovation Time Off". Headsets are built out of simple, low-cost components. Once assembled, a smartphone is inserted, held in place by a rubber band. The lenses create the impression of a stereoscopic 3D image with a wide field of view.



A Jour ney Through

July 2015 saw our first class of young pioneers graduate from primary into secondary. Many of them joined the Harrow school when it first opened in 2008. They reflect on these formative years, navigating the happy times and the hard times, and the lessons they will take with them as they embark on the next leg of their journey of self-discovery.

Ghanashyam Year 3 was a huge change because of the transition from KS1 to KS2. We started to learn and use our 6 values – respect, self-discipline, courage, gratitude, integrity and empathy. The Student Council boosted the school hugely, as it started to take each individual request into account. Student Council also helped raise with FOKAS to by expensive equipment, which is basketballs, basketball hoops, footballs, netballs etc. Lastly, one of the countries biggest idols – the Queen, came to OUR school!

Jamie Harsh Tejpal Many people say that one must “live life to the fullest”. This is one of the many things we have learnt in Krishna Avanti. The six values of this school have helped me throughout my time here. I have been able to use the values everywhere I go, and everywhere I will go. In my honest opinion, respect is the most important value, as if you don’t respect others, it might hurt them a lot. Being the first ever class in the school was amazing, as we were always representing Avanti; amazing because we were the first to see this magnificent school; amazing because we were the first children to worship Krishna and Balarama here. Being in this school made me proud that I was in the nation’s first Hindu state school.



Before I joined KAPS I used to go to a different school, where we do the register, go have assembly and get straight to our learning. This happened daily until I started to get bullied from Year 1–3. The bullying got worse every day so I decided to leave. My parents sent me to Krishna Avanti where I made lots of friends. KAPS was so much better because we also did morning worship. This had a huge impact on my behaviour towards learning. At that point I gradually started to like studying. It also brought me closer to God, especially Lord Krishna. I started to worship God more and enjoyed the meditation and singing. Year 6 was the best year for me. It was more serious since we had our SATs but after that we had a lot of fun trips, especially Mill on the Brue (an outdoor activity camp in Somerset).

Darshini Shah

Pashtana Momand When I moved to England from Holland, I could only speak basic English. When I joined the school in Year 5, every child looked at me. I felt really small. I got introduced to the class which made me shy. There was a girl with dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. She was the first friend I made here at Krishna Avanti. She has all the six values of Krishna Avanti. She is the girl who showed me what life is like here. Soon I made new friends and I started to improve my English. Thanks to everyone who supported me. Special thanks to a teacher who is very stern but kind-hearted! She has helped me all these years to improve my English. Not to mention all the wonderful teachers who have helped me to develop my levels. After a year of hard work, I moved on to Year 6. Year 6 has been a challenge for me, but I finally proved to everyone that I am able to achieve the levels I want. Now I am here on this podium telling you about my journey. One thing I will take with me from this school is my memories. The six values of the school: empathy, self-discipline, respect, courage, integrity and gratitude are values I will never forget. They’re not just values, each one of them has meaning, which the school owns. What makes this school special is that it has a temple, which other schools don’t. I am a different faith but I am in this wonderful Hindu-faith school. I am happy that I chose this school. I will never forget it – I promise!

Before I started KAPS, I was like a plastic tree standing in the corner of the room; I wouldn’t even answer when told to, never mind speaking on my own, but that’s the past. Now I’m standing tall, talking to all of you, because of the amazing journey I’ve had through Krishna Avanti. The best thing I have taken away are the friends I have made. They have left a very deep impression on me; one that only special individuals can give you. This school is very special, and I was very privileged to come here. To the children of Krishna Avanti, don’t forget – this school can lead you a long way!

Lalita If it weren’t for KAPS, I would never be the person that I am now. I used to be very distracted and definitely disorganized during work, but even though I still am, I have very much improved. KAPS has really made me see the other side of truth but it wasn’t all about work. The marble walls of the temple, the carved pillar, the delightful deities were all quite overwhelming. The astro-turf was huge; filled with ‘grass’. When I was little I used to think the grass would grow, but sooner or later I found out it was fake – no wonder it never grew! KAPS is where lots of adventures happened, from Butterfly World to Mill on the Brue. As we excelled over the years, we had to face challenging tasks; not just work wise but socially as well. I speak from experience – school isn’t always smooth sailing but there are always your friends and teachers by your side. We will all miss our teachers, and hopefully you will miss us too, even though we were quite a handful.



Gauranga Sircar

Vinay Patel Memory is a way of holding onto things you love; the things you are; the things you never want to lose. I will miss all the children at KAPS and will never forget this place. Let’s start at Year 1, when I first joined KAPS. This was my hardest year, not because of the teacher but because I found it really hard settling in. I knew no-one and I wished I’d never come. However, a few months later I began to realize that this was a brilliant school. In Year 2, my fondest memory was of course, SATs! Actually this year I improved in all my subjects thanks to my teacher. The six values were engrained in me in Year 3 – gratitude, integrity, courage, empathy, self-discipline and respect. This was the year I felt more connected to God.

From the first days of nursery, I learnt to be friendly, as I had pre-school friends to my advantage, and I made new friends, playing everyday by the train set, learnt how to do morning worship, and getting stamps and stickers from our teacher. Those days were fun but as time flew, learning grew harder. Reception was when we started mastering our ABC’s, and when we got it, we thought we were expert professors. Our memory was growing too, as we enacted Jesus’ birth, and had to learn many lines for the Nativity. Learning about different people began to create questions in my mind as we got ready for Year 1, when we moved into our wonderful new school site. The day we walked into this school, I was fascinated by the marble temple, confused by the amount of names I had to remember to make friends with, and overwhelmed by the teachers, who were really friendly. I felt big, because I was the oldest (and tallest) in the class. The day we first came to this school was also my birthday. “How wonderful” I thought, as this was the greatest birthday present ever.

Arya Kumar Krishna Avanti has taught me many values that are life changing, for instance, gratitude has had a huge impact on how I have behaved in primary school. For example, some of the most basic items such as clean water and bacteria-free food, I have taken for granted, but now I have changed. One reason why gratitude stands out for me the most is that when I needed a school in 2008, I was at home for 3 weeks because my Dad was finding it hard to find me a place in London. Then he searched the internet and found Krishna Avanti. He immediately phoned the school and my future teacher answered the phone and agreed right away to give me a place.



Pari Rupa Life in KAPS is a dream come true, as you learn how to believe in yourself and believe in God. I personally have experienced how life can be difficult, with many obstacles, for example, fear and shyness. I was very shy over the years because I was scared of teachers. Now that I am in Year 6 I have learnt that talking to a person older than you doesn’t hurt. Courage, one of our values, has helped me to change the way I used to be. I would like the younger children to learn how to stand up for yourself and have courage. If it weren’t for KAPS I would never be the person that I am now.

Dhru Thaker From when I started here in Year 3, I have developed and matured as a person, like a small seed, being nurtured and treated to grow into a mighty oak. My journey, albeit only four years, has taught me much more than any other school could. Through the values and spiritual teachings, I have flourished in this school. Along with the normal curricular education, Krishna Avanti’s values (empathy, self-discipline, respect, integrity, courage and gratitude) all contribute to helping you become a better person, physically as well as mentally. By understanding them and practicing it in your daily lives, you will be a more likeable and sociable person. At KAPS, you are taught to a high level and are expected to achieve above-average results. KAPS students thrive under teaching conditioned to your ability. And also being privileged enough to have extracurricular lessons, such as Sanskrit and Philosophy & Ethics, assist the progress towards a set goal. By being the role model class for the younger children, the responsibility we face has also molded us into leaders of the future, despite the fact we will be the youngest soon. Understanding that we have to care for others, control ourselves, be honest and stand up for the right thing are just a few of the numerous spiritual lessons. And as the mighty oak grows and the fruits start popping up in the branches, something small lies in the grass. It is a small seed, waiting for the nurturing hand of someone to grow it into the tree it’s meant to be.

Khushi Varsani Our values have successfully trained us well enough to have resilience for the future. KAPS is a special place because as soon as you walk into your class, you see a family full of love and happiness. In my experience, I thought I would wake up shivering in fear as I go to school, but no, I was wrong. As I walked into that Reception classroom, I felt normal because my classmates accepted me for who I was. So as the years go by, you are able to spot out what your strengths and weaknesses are, so you can develop more of a mind of what your dream is. You become more motivated to investigate your strengths and fix up your weaknesses and if you are unsure, without a doubt there is always someone there to help or comfort you.

Hari Thakur Goswami Year 4 was full of productions such as Bugsy Malone and Scrooge. This is when I started to develop my drama skills. My Year 4 teacher had a lot of things in common with me; both of us were interested in Bollywood films. Furthermore, in Year 5 I was the star for most of the school plays such as ‘All you need is love’ at the Southbank Centre. I was feeling frightened when I performed in front of more than 500 people. Moreover, I also won second place in 2014’s KAPS Got Talent. This made me feel proud of myself.



Campaigning with

Compassion On 25th April 2015, Nepal, perched precariously within one of the most seismically active regions in the world, was struck by a violent magnitude 7.8 earthquake. In the weeks that followed, almost 100 quakes and aftershocks compounded the misery and exacerbated the relief effort. Avanti House students, moved by the scale of the disaster, could not sit by. We would like to share some fantastic news with you regarding our fundraising for the Nepal Earthquake appeal. The students, staff and parents from both the primary and secondary phases pulled together and have raised a substantial amount for this worthy cause. Avanti House School first became involved with the fundraising for the earthquake when Miss Devalia’s tutor group 7.2 showed a great deal of empathy and concern wanting desperately to do something for the stricken families of Nepal. The tutor group were deeply affected by this tragic event, made worse by one of their class members still having family and friends in Nepal at the time of the earthquake. This ignited a spark within the group to raise some money which

would help rebuild the lives of those affected. When Miss Devalia saw how passionate her tutor group were about this disaster, both herself and 7.2 started working on their campaign to help make a difference. Form 7.2 worked in collaboration with the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee) as they felt that the charity pursued the same values and ethos as Avanti House School; we were confident that the money raised would be used wisely and effectively. The tutor group led a sponsored silence within the school, raising almost £1,000 alone from the event. The group then wished to get the entire school involved with their quest to raise money and thus a Mufti Day (non-uniform) was authorised for all students and staff to participate in by donating £1 per person. Continued on page 18





Confirmed deaths


People Injured

People affected

as of 31 July 2015 (United Nations)

over 40% of the population

A Breakdown of

Destruction Seti




NEPAL Dhawalagiri





25 2015

602,257 Homes Destroyed

Mount Everest Bagmati • KATHMANDU




285,099 Homes Damaged

Kosi Janakpur



1,383 Schools Damaged

Magnitude 7.8 Earthquake

“Similar to having 20 thermonuclear hydrogen bombs each many times greater than the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima ripping through the Kathmandu Valley”

Alongside these events and others at the primary site – including a wonderful and very successful bake sale – a generous donation of £501 was also contributed by our PTA, FOAH (Friends of Avanti House). It has been truly heart-warming to see everybody show their support and commitment to the fundraising events. It only goes to underline how the Avanti House community come together as a family, with solidarity and a common purpose – on this occasion led by the very enterprising and energetic Miss Devalia at the secondary site and Mr Halliday and his wonderful team at the primary site. However, this achievement is more than anything, a true reflection of all the hard work from our students. Events such as these certainly demonstrate that the school values are being lived out; we should all be very proud of them.  Please help us congratulate them on all their remarkable work and determination to raise an incredible final figure. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support, encouragement and contributions. Santander has very kindly offered to double our total, giving us a grand total of over £6,000! Finally, please find below what you have all been waiting for – the final breakdown and grand total (including Friends of Avanti House contributions).

Events such as these certainly demonstrate that the school values are being lived out

Avanti House Secondary TOTAL

£ 2212.55

Avanti House Primary TOTAL

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Introducing Deborah Walters, the new Headteacher of Avanti Court Primary School in the London Borough of Redbridge, a part of the world she knows very well indeed

Deborah Walters graduated from Middlesex University with a degree in Performing Arts and Music in 1997. Following her PGCE teaching qualification, she began her teaching career in Redbridge, a borough which she has never left! For two years Deborah was a driving force in the borough’s School Improvement Team, where she worked as a Literacy Consultant supporting schools across Redbridge to raise standards and achievement in Literacy. Deborah has supported three schools in challenging circumstances over the last five years in Redbridge to raise standards and by supporting leaders to achieve the very best outcomes for their pupils. After nearly three years as the Deputy Headteacher of a large primary school in Redbridge she was successfully appointed as the Headteacher of Avanti Court Primary School. Deborah, having trained as a classical singer from a very young age enjoys playing the piano, singing and of course leading the school choir!

Krishna Avanti comes to Croydon Krishna Avanti Primary School, Croydon is a new school opening in September 2016. As the fifth addition to our family of successful schools, it will provide an outstanding education for all. Avanti schools prepare pupils for their respective life-journeys by promoting educational excellence, character formation and spiritual insight. Our Hindu faith schools are truly inclusive, seeking pupils and staff­from all backgrounds and faiths; we do not operate a faith criteria for pupils. Alongside teaching the full curriculum, the school will offer practical 21st century spirituality rooted in class meditations, valuesled lessons and yoga to encourage reflection; provisions that have led to outstanding behaviour and excellent attainment in our existing schools. News of the approval reached the Trust in March, and in June 20

more details were received, such as the site for a brand new school building, plans of which are already being drafted by architects. The search for a suitable headteacher to lead the school is well underway; the recruitment campaign being handled by TES Prime. Also, the admissions policy has been finalised, so if your child will be starting Reception class in 2016 (born between 1st September 2011 and 31st August 2012) and you’d


A brand new school will replace Victoria House, at CR0 4HA

like them to attend the school, applications can be made now via Croydon Council. Over a number of years, a dedicated group of Croydon parents have campaigned for an Avanti school. In a survey of 4,000 local families, (less than 11% of whom were Hindu) they demonstrated that support for such a school was over 93%. Like all Avanti schools, Krishna Avanti Croydon has been created at a grassroots level from the conviction and passion of local people. Each growing school is nurtured and enriched by the community that surrounds it, and our newest member will undoubtedly benefit from the same parental support. Special thanks go to MannMohan Abbott, Nitin Mehta and Asish Soni, joint local co-ordinators for the project, who for many years have worked tirelessly to raise awareness and garner support.

Principal Mark Bennison has devised a simple yet elegant grouping of subjects for Avanti House

Its introduction into the Secondary school at Pinner will be quietly phased and of low impact, allowing the concept to evolve with school growth. Subjects that share certain characteristics have been placed into six groups, or faculties, and named to reflect their focus. An additional layer has been applied, allowing the six faculties to function as houses. Each house has a Sanskrit name that corresponds with its faculty, and each house adopts one of

the six virtues that Avanti schools work to instil in their students. This provides further focus for students within a house, placing formation of character alongside their academic aspirations. Traditionally it has been curriculum subjects that have shaped a secondary school, determining internal structure. This in turn influences interactions and culture. Worryingly, it can inhibit cross-curricular learning opportunities, and doesn’t reflect structures found in higher education or the world of work, where disciplines and specialisms co-exist and collaborate. Locating a subject within a faculty allows

for subject-based teaching as well as access to integrated, project-based learning. Each faculty/house will be overseen by a Director, whom subject heads will report to, and students can turn to for additional support. Each tutor group will be known by their house – to which they belong throughout their years at school. The new building planned for Avanti House will accommodate the six faculties in a variety of practical and creative ways. Avanti Life magazine looks forward to sharing more updates with our readers as the vision for the new faculties develop.




GANITA Integrity

Science, Design Technology, Business Studies, Economics

UDYOGA Courage

Drama, Dance, Music, Art, Design, Media


Humanities, Languages (MFL and Sanskrit)


PE, Hospitality, Psychology, Critical Thinking

PRAYUS Self-discipline



The Three Essential Forms of Yoga And why there are so many types 22


The world of Yoga offers a stunning array of styles, from classical traditions to contemporary fusions. Dr. Graham M. Schweig analyses the three primal ingredients found in many of the forms we see today. The practice of Yoga is very personal. Yoga was never meant to be competitive, nor was Yoga ever meant to be something that could be evaluated. Yoga is about one’s personal journey into greater strength of body, mind, and heart. It is about reaching heights of the human spirit and depths of the self that would otherwise be unavailable to us. So we might ask, why are there so many different types, or styles, or forms of Yoga? And how might we understand them all and be discerning about them? Which forms of Yoga make sense for us? To respond to these questions, let us turn to what the most important classical texts on Yoga say. The Bhagavad Gītā, although a text that describes many forms of Yoga, presents the essential forms of Yoga. These primary forms correspond to the essential ways we are human. As humans, we are feeling, thinking, and acting beings. When these ways of being human are engaged as forms of Yoga, they become ways of reaching the most elevated states of consciousness, accessing the untapped potential that lies dormant within each of us. The affective nature of human beings, or our capacity to feel and to love, is strengthened in the Yoga of Bhakti. The Yoga Sūtra explains that it is “from deep within the heart that pure consciousness is fully known” (YS 3.35). The heart is the seat of feeling and emotion, and this is the apex of all Yoga experience. The feeling of peacefulness or tranquility,

the feeling of blissfulness or great joy, the feeling of loving compassion or passionate love for the divine beloved, are all ultimate experiences from within the innermost world of the heart in Bhakti. The cognitive nature of human beings, or our capacity to know and to understand, is strengthened in the Yoga of Jñāna, or “knowledge.” The experience of the ultimate reality is conducted by a comprehension and a vision of the absolute unity in all things, in all beings and existence. The yogi of knowledge, or Jñāna Yogi, seeks this pure state of existence and consciousness within the inner world of the discerning intelligence so that he or she can ultimately transcend this world and attain liberation from it. The volitional nature of human beings, or our capacity to perform actions in this outer world, is strengthened in the Yoga of Karma, or “action.” This world in which we find ourselves has tremendous value for attaining a connection with the divine. By identifying and determining those temporary acts or activities in this world that connect us with the infinite, allow us to be absorbed in a constant state of meditation no matter where we are and what we are doing. And as the Yogi absorbed in devotion or Bhakti, and as the Yogi absorbed in knowledge or Jñāna, so the Yogi engaged in Karma is absorbed in actions that connect to the divine in a world that is filled with challenges, conflicts, and much pain and suffering.

The Yoga of Bhakti

The Yoga of Jñāna

The Yoga of Karma




avanti schools trust |


All forms of Yoga draw from these three primary forms, and combine in specific ways to form unique presentations while placing the emphasis on one of the three. These three forms are like the primary colors of the color spectrum: by the different combinations of yellow, red, and blue one can create any other color. The variety of colors comes not just from

combining these primary colors, but these primary colors themselves have different shades that can be combined, allowing for unique results. Similarly, Bhakti, Jテアト]a, and Karma Yogas are thus the three primary colors of Yoga, and every style or form or practice of Yoga draws from these constituent forms.






The Three Essential Forms of Yoga

Let us see how these primary colors of Yoga are combined in the classical “eightfold limbs,” or ashtānga system of Patañjali in his Yoga Sūtra (YS 2.29). The first three limbs are related to Karma Yoga: the ways we should or should not act in the world that require discipline (yama) and certain behavioural qualities and key acts that should be embraced (niyama) as well as the importance of positioning the body (āsana). These are external practices that are essential for the achievement of the ultimate states of Yoga. Then the limbs move more and more into the subtle, more internal actions of Yoga dominated by Jñāna: the deepening of the breathing process (prānāyāma), the interiorizing process by moving more and more into pure consciousness (pratyāhāra), focusing the flow of consciousness on a single object in meditation (dhāranā), achieving the uninterrupted flow of consciousness to and from the meditational object (dhyāna), and finally the attainment of ecstatic absorption of consciousness perfectly and fully in the object of meditation (samādhi). And finally, we learn that at the deepest level of the meditational perfection of samādhi, which is itself the perfection of Yoga, is the achievement of the innermost world of the heart in Bhakti, in which the presence of the divine is discovered: “The perfection of samādhi occurs when one discovers the divine center of all being (īśvara) by moving to and from the depths of the heart (pranidhāna)” (YS 2.45). No matter what the form of Yoga, it becomes a most personal and intimate journey. Some have taken Yoga and made it into a competitive sport, or have made it something of a show or demonstration. But ultimately Yoga is about our powerful process of connecting with the highest thing we know and love, and bringing that vision into action with all life. Choose a form of Yoga and delve into its practice deeply. There is no greater blessing than to be absorbed in a form of Yoga practice that becomes so dear and so near to the very core of our beings. Then an experience of enlightenment is around the corner. We can become so strong that we discover purity of heart and thought which then become ignited to the point that we can offer so much to a world in great need.









avanti schools trust |


Contribute to your community Become a

School Governor Transfer your expertise to a local Avanti school

School governors, due to their diverse skills and backgrounds, provide a vital perspective on key educational matters. As the highest level of authority within a school, their role is critical to its success. Avanti schools have a number of vacancies, and require people with expertise in business, education, strategic management, financial planning, media and law.

You don’t need to have children or be a parent of a child at the school to become a school governor, but you will want to make a positive impact on the education of local children. You'll get to know the school, its staff, its students and their families. With the training we provide, you'll gain fascinating insights into education and how your unique skillset can contribute to raising standards in acadmic provision and the efficient running of a school.

If you're happy to dedicate 4 hours per week, please contact us using the details below. Positions will be subject to an interview, and a DBS background check is required prior to appointment. We look forward to working with you. 20 8731 1454 |

Avanti Life – September 2015 – AUTUMN EDITION  

The official newsletter of the Avanti Schools Trust

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