The last week before the break

Reading back over these blog entries over the last year and more gives a perspective on the pandemic. A year ago life was normal, though I could sense a gathering storm through the global media. Football at the Ray Mac and a trip to the Globe with the whole of Year 10, the type of activity which has since died or changed into a foreign form. March 2020, just after the holiday, saw the school closed with the launch of lockdown and now we all have a different set of rules by which to live. The weekly entries add up to a journal through the epidemic as national events buffeted the school and dictated great swathes of our days.

The approach of the half term break gives us all the chance to take a look at what has happened over this most recent period since Christmas, and it is clear that though the school has grown acclimatized to lockdown, this time around things are a bit different. Remote learning is live, the systems being used for delivery of lessons, class interaction and for submission and assessment of work are secure and reliable. Parental feedback reflects this in two different ways. At the junior end of the school there have been lots of appreciative comments suggesting that most boys are coping pretty well and are, in many cases, enjoying the routine of engagement and being very creative in what they produce. The senior boys and girls are generally working hard and doing well, though interestingly in a minority of cases our A level students are finding the workload a challenge. There is a need for everyone to get accustomed to the demands of online learning, both students and teachers, so that no-one is asked to achieve the impossible!

The creative side of the school is also holding up well. There is lots of art going on to Instagram, two virtual concerts (Link 1 , Link 2) have been posted last week and there's lots of video-based learning in PE and Drama. Sixth Form Enrichment is thriving with masses of resources on the Teams Channel and virtual talks for History, Politics, Science and Careers. The selection process for the next batch of senior prefects is under way with input from the current Sixth Form Council, and the staff are weighing in inimitable style with Mr Green and Mr Ennew sitting in the 'Desert Island Discs' hot seat and a Staff Arts Showcase just launched. The school site remains quiet, though the arrival of temporary fencing and scaffolding heralds the imminent replacement of the Science Block roof after years of leakage, and covid testing has become a regular fixture.

Acclimatization is one thing. Acceptance is quite another. When we return from the half term holiday the government date for the return of schools will be close. While we have done a lot to cope with our current circumstances, virtual schools are always going to be second best. There is nothing quite like the small site in The Close swarming with activity, creativity, excitement and energy. I can't wait!