Lessons from Lockdown

This week should have seen the start of Wimbledon and yet we’re watching the closing stages of the FA Cup and Premier League.

In Senior School, we should have been watching the annual school production – Grease this year – and yet we are debating the future of the arts, as theatres across the country remain closed.

We should have been preparing to celebrate Junior Prizegiving too and yet we will be marking this event virtually, for Year 6 rites of passage only (in socially distanced pods) and with no parents in the audience.

So, whilst I enjoyed the nostalgic re-runs from Glastonbury at the weekend and I may dip into some classic tennis matches being aired this week, it really isn’t quite the way I thought this summer would be!

Schools have been under the same controlling forces of government directives as everyone else because of the pandemic. These unprecedented times will make 2020 a year to remember for us all and not for positive reasons. Year 11, Upper Sixth Formers and teachers across the country stood shocked and stunned as exams were cancelled.  Closure of college and school sites with a nationwide lockdown have made working from home and remote online learning the way forward.  We’ve all been screen focused and immersed in conference calls, Teams and Zoom – I wonder if this will continue or be a newly structured way of working.

But whilst we may have missed our freedom, retail therapy, eating out, socialising and seeing our family and friends, there have certainly been life aspects that have improved and emerged through our enforced isolation.  Some of these are personal but a number are those I have seen and shared with others in our school and wider community:

  • The glorious weather has encouraged all of us to exercise more regularly outdoors – I have never seen so many people walking and cycling – families especially.
  • New footpaths, woodland and tracks have been discovered – some only a stone’s throw from our own homes!
  • Gardens are looking and smelling fantastic – they are filled with the sights and sounds of nature, wildlife has boomed, relishing the drop in pollution and people.
  • Families have joyfully experimented with baking and cooking – trying different recipes and I’ve seen some amazing examples from pupils of all ages. More families eating together each day, sharing quality time.
  • Games and quizzes both in homes, and virtually, have flourished – remembering the value of connecting with others and introducing some healthy competition to boot!
  • The biggest increase in IT usage has been in the over 60’s age group where grandparents and relatives have embraced screens in order to stay in touch with loved ones.
  • Creativity has had time to develop and grow. The artwork and photography seen from our pupils has been truly astonishing as they have the time and freedom to explore, experiment and think.

As we have explored and enjoyed new experiences, we have also connected emotionally in new ways.

We’ve learned to value our NHS and the caring nature of many other roles.  We have donated generously to those who needed help.  We’ve learned the importance of social responsibility by following guidance to protect those we love, and also those we don’t even know.

For our School
We’ve learned not to take our freedom and the importance of an education for granted.

Children have appreciated their school and teachers, yet developed their independence too.

We’ve retained normality and humour in online live lessons with dogs barking, cats sitting on keyboards, window cleaners in the background and house deliveries arriving.

Teachers have welcomed pupils into their virtual homes and built children’s confidence through catch up calls and messages.

We’ve shared pets at form time; themed dress-up days; group singing; challenges and sporting quests.

Teachers have remembered the reason they love their job is being in school, inspiring the next generation.

Our community bonds have strengthened.  Our school family will be reunited.

There is a joy of coming through adversity and we need to capture this essence. We know the new normal is unclear for returning to school but it is crucial we do not lose what we have learned and discovered.  Many people have been devastated by the crisis – bereaved, seriously ill or lost their livelihood – it is incumbent upon us therefore to shape a bright future and embrace the progress we have made through difficult times. Schools are the best places to do this, and we will….

‘Here come the young. With open minds and hearts
Inclusive from the start. Here come the young.
Here come the young. They might just save the day
Best get out the way. Here come the young.’

(Written by Martyn Joseph)

Now there’s a lyric worth thinking about.

Lynne M Horner, Principal

1st July 2020