1st March 2021 — It was just over a year ago when it became evident that the new corona virus which had emerged in Wuhan was not a problem which was going to be contained in China. Where we had first watched the news with mild curiosity, so this was replaced with the need to act. Like many schools across the country, our Key Leadership Team formed a school ‘COBRA’ group, meeting daily to discuss our strategic approach. Almost unthinkingly, it became clear that our normal hopes and expectations, our trust in the simple things in life were to be challenged. After emotional assemblies on 19 March, the school closed, followed swiftly by businesses, shops, gyms and so on in the coming days.
Those COBRA meetings have continued throughout the last twelve months, with just a short break during the summer weeks. As a group, we have sought to balance the doom and gloom of the daily news by sharing the continuing life affirming and uplifting news of our pupils and their development. We have remained upbeat, whilst acknowledging the real fears, uncertainties and doubts of some of our school community. That we have staff teams who all have the very best of intentions for our pupils and school has been at the heart of managing the challenges of this pandemic. Time and again, we have asked staff, parents and pupils for their trust in our decisions as we have navigated through three lockdowns, two of which led to the closing of schools, and responded to the various short notice changes of COVID guidance.
Now our talk in COBRA meetings has a more optimistic tone. We are talking about the joy of reopening the school to all pupils on 8 March. Teachers (and I’m sure parents and children!) are delighted at the prospect of putting aside the demands of remote learning and returning to face to face teaching. We will continue to need to have safety measures in place to help us to manage to live with the virus but we do so with an optimistic air and the hope that the remainder of the school year will continue uninterrupted.
Our pupils have been well served during this most recent lockdown by our comprehensive programme of live teaching and learning. Nonetheless, we will check for gaps in their academic attainment when we return to school and address these as necessary. We are also mindful of the social and emotional challenges that this last year has brought and thus we intend to open a dedicated wellbeing room, with associated initiatives, for our return in March. With the advantage of better weather in the months ahead, we also look forward to the return of the simple delights of sport and shared outdoor play.
Some say that education will never be the same, and there is probably truth in this. However, there is a real buzz of positivity in our school, as we take this opportunity to rethink how we work, take the good from the last twelve months in our teaching and look afresh at how we use our environment and spaces to best effect. It is a time to be excited and have faith that the small pleasures in life will return.
Mrs Helen Hutton-Attenborough
Head of Preparatory School