We are absolutely delighted to be welcoming back all year groups on Monday, 8th March. The opportunity to come back together as a School community fills us with gratitude and a palpable sense of excitement. Few could have anticipated that lockdown would last so long or that the last year would have proved so incredibly challenging for children around the world. Obviously, it is very important that we take all reasonable measures to safeguard and protect the physical health of all within our communities but this should not continue to be at the educational and emotional cost of our children. It was reassuring that Keir Starmer voiced his support for the full return of schools despite opposition from the usual quarters.
Vaccinations provide a much-needed exit strategy and whilst some restrictions will remain in place for months to come, it is clear that we are now on the home stretch and that our children can look forward to a near-normal summer term. Co-curricular activities will recommence from 8th March and this will include sports, music, drama, outward bound activities and all clubs and societies. The wearing of facemasks in classrooms will persist for a while longer yet but this is a very small price to pay for the level of protection that is provided to us as a consequence. The reason why we have fared so well thus far is because we have been proactive in terms of minimising risk.
I am delighted that we have launched the International Piano Academy this week and you will be aware that we intend to become an All-Steinway School ahead of September 2021. We have some truly outstanding pianists here within School and we feel that we are now in a position to provide a superb programme for those wishing to study music at university or conservatoire level. Adam Dobson, our Director of Music is heading up this programme and teaching staff will include Hazel Nguyen, who has broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and the celebrated international concert pianist, Martin Roscoe. We are establishing tangible links with the Junior Royal Northern College of Music and Pro Corda, the National Chamber Music School.
Work has continued on the Nursery and Infants building and, internally, the building has been almost entirely refurbished. We look forward to having the opportunity to show off the building to all Rossallians in due course but we are incredibly proud of the modern, bright and spacious interior spaces that we have now created. Our maintenance team works incredibly hard and the quality of their craftsmanship and ingenious creativity permeates all aspects of this project. Our Head of Design and Technology, Lee Hodgetts, had the vision to see what this rather dour and rather frustrating building had the potential to become. The Nursery and new Pre-Prep will be officially opened next term when the external uplift has been completed. More exciting developments on this front will be announced before the end of this term.
The girls elite football programme is developing apace and by September we will have at least three England U16 players here with us. Four of our boys played for Fleetwood FC U18s last week against Wigan and Preston North End. They won both matches and it is great that they have the opportunity to play competitive fixtures at this time. Our golfers are eagerly awaiting the reopening of courses around the country.
There is so much to celebrate but I am acutely conscious that the impact of COVID will remain with all of us for a long while. It is something that we will gently come to terms with during the months and years ahead. We are an international family and it is not just our boarders who have been separated from family members. Many of our day pupils will not have seen cousins and grandparents who live overseas. My daughters have sixteen first cousins on Fiona’s side and they have not seen any of them or their Irish grandparents since December 2019. That length of time is irrecoverable – it is a very real loss. Quinn, the youngest, was born just after lockdown was imposed and he is now walking. Fiona met him briefly through a window back in June but the girls and I have yet to meet him. I know that this is pretty standard and that whilst we are incredibly grateful to be able to return to School, there are aspects of all of our lives outside school that will remain on hold for a while longer yet. We live in a globally connected world and measures that interfere with our freedom of movement have a human cost which is almost incalculable. 9.5 million people in the UK were born abroad and each and the vast majority of them now find themselves isolated from family members.
For now though, I think we need to focus upon all that is positive and give thanks for the opportunity to stop living lives which seem to have been held in limbo for so long.
Wishing all a very happy weekend!
All best wishes
Mr Jeremy Quartermain
Headmaster of Rossall School