End of the 2019-2020 academic year

I remember using (or maybe mis-using) a T.S. Eliot quote from ‘The Hollow Men’ in an earlier incarnation of this blog – to describe the strange, untimely end to the spring term. The whimper that was school closure all the way back then around the time of the equinox was the curtain-raiser to the whole season of strangeness that has followed. Now, post-solstice, another term is about to close; rather like the tide ebbing across a wide sandy beach rather than the habitual adrenaline-pumping and mildly frenetic last day before the break. Come Friday the laptops will be closed at home and at school, the buildings will slowly empty of a few waifs and strays, the cars will leave and the barrier will drop. BWS will go back into full hibernation; rather than just being filled with a quiet hum the pulse of school will drop until mid-August.

In some ways time has stood still – but in many ways it hasn’t at all. The pace of remote teaching and learning has quickened with Teams, and seeing and talking to the Year 10 and 12 boys who have been back in temporary residence has reminded me forcibly just how much is going on at a distance. The use of IT to supplement what we do has meant that there are far more markers for this part of the school year online than ever before. The passage of time has been signalled by no fewer than five live sixth form webinars, 5 House webinars for the boys joining Year 7 in September and numerous video presentations for various parts of the school. Bishop’s digital footprint is growing exponentially, driven by the absence of our normal means of communication. We will return to our more normal face to face experiences for open sessions and the like, but those will be supplemented by MS Teams online sessions and video presentations. As Milton Friedman said “only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change”. Nothing, surely, will ever be the same again after what has happened over the past few months.

Meanwhile the seasons have moved on despite the school being in apparent stasis. When lockdown started the trees were merely in bud; now they are in full leaf. The farmland near home was, as yet, fresh green with young wheat; now it is turning golden once again. Sitting this afternoon overlooking a field I watched a tractor cutting grass for hay with a kite drifting lazily behind it, watching for panicking insects and rodents to pick off. As the evening draws on the May Bugs hum around the hedgerows and bats cruise and dive over the new-mown lines; Wiltshire is at its most wonderful in the mid evening in July when the wind drops, the horizon is still a line of brilliance and much else is a mere silhouette. High summer is here, there’s no doubt, and the holiday is beckoning as it should for staff and students alike. Life – real, bustling, noisy and stress-inducing life will return, but for the moment we all need to reflect on what has happened and what needs to come next.

Have a great summer everyone!