Happy New Year or is it a bit of a hangover?

2021 has begun where 2020 left off, as I suppose it was always going to. The pandemic is no respecter of artificial human constructs like Christmas and January, as is proved by the epidemiological data that seems to be climbing remorselessly no matter what data is in the spotlight. I have some sympathy once again for HM Government facing such a situation, and of course we are yet to see the impact of the loosening of restrictions over the festive period and any New Year nonsense. Here at school the site is quiet once more as lessons have moved online; we have just a handful of students here, and of course they are accessing lessons via MS teams the same as all the others so that the heads in the bubbles in the IT suites are also self-absorbed. As things stand we should have Year 11 in next week for lessons and Year 13 for exams only, but the politicians still have to react to events as they unfold and nothing is certain. We will just have to continue to roll with the punches…

Meanwhile the large pile of cardboard boxes in Reception is the evidence that our consignment of mass testing equipment has arrived, on schedule. We had an amazing response to the request for volunteers to help with the testing programme, as nearly 50 parents have written to offer their services. We now have to put together a complex rota for the next few weeks with built-in spare capacity to withstand the almost inevitable challenges of self-isolation and family illness that are likely to follow. This will be a challenging exercise in logistics, and of course everything is subject to changes in the rules of engagement at national level too. Testing is unlikely to start before next week and my hunch at present is that the main batch will not be complete until the end of the month.

Finally, the beginning of 2021 has been made sadder by the news of the death of a BWS legend, Arthur ‘Titch’ Bowden at the age of 92.

Arther Bowden

A Bishop’s Boy to the absolute core, Arthur was a fundamental part of the school for thousands of alumnae over his 37 years of service here. Ask any old boy of the school over a certain age which teachers they remember and they are certain to mention Mr Bowden. Generations of boys tell stories of his wit and humanity and his focus on what mattered most for them, whether that was in Languages or on the Rugby Field. Arthur – you were an absolute star, and you’ll be missed by so many across the world…