Six Thousand Online Lessons and Counting!

Trumpet, Hercules and Romeo social distancing as they enter the Hall

By the end of this afternoon, our Senior School teachers will have delivered over six thousand lessons online. This is a remarkable achievement by any measure. Whilst many other schools are simply placing worksheets on Google Drive and hoping for the best, we have committed to ensuring that our boys and girls are educationally empowered throughout every stage of these challenging times. Maintaining a full programme of lessons has helped our children to feel connected and it has inspired them to complete some truly outstanding work. It is not just about providing structure, routine and the opportunity to make continuous progress; it is about resisting the isolation and frustration that lockdown inevitably threatens. It is about offering young people support and encouragement and demonstrating that no matter how immense the challenge, we can choose to keep our heads held high and take a sense of real pride in finding practical solutions to the obstacles placed in our path.

We will emerge from this with an even more defined sense of purpose and the bonds that bind this community together are strengthened in adversity. As Catherine Stacker pointed out last week, the School has endured plenty during its illustrious history and I have no doubt that the intangible spirit of this place has been hardened by institutional pride and real conviction of purpose. The speed with which we responded to this crisis was only possible because of the outstanding leadership shown by so many of my colleagues. In particular, I should single out Dina Porovic (Deputy Head – Academic) who has worked every hour of every day to ensure that the academic side of school life continues with as little interruption as possible.

I believe that our children will emerge from these times with a heightened ability to work independently. As educators, we have improved our technological skills exponentially. Being compelled to work in such a different way has challenged all of us to adapt and master new skills. From a pedagogical perspective, it is unlikely that we will return to ‘business as usual’ because we have learnt so much from this experience. We will want to critically reflect upon those areas of our practice that have evolved over the last five weeks or so. The intrinsic motivation that so many of our boys and girls are daily demonstrating is both heartening and a reminder that we should place a good deal of trust in their desire to learn.

Appointment of Monitors 2020/21
This is always a process tinged with sadness and joy. It is sad because we begin to say goodbye to Year 13 which is especially poignant this year because they are absent. Lex Bilby and Louisa Rogerson have led an outstanding team and I do hope that we will have the opportunity to express our gratitude to them properly when we get round to holding Prize Day and the Leavers’ Ball. I could not have asked for a more hardworking team of monitors and they have demonstrated superb leadership at all times. Without fail, they have acted with compassion and good humour.

Our current Year 12 are a super year group and so this year I am delighted to inform you that we have appointed Patrick Dunn and Zenith Subba as our School Captains and they will be ably assisted by our Vice Captains, Alex Fielden and Harriet Clough. Full details of our Senior Monitors and School Monitors can be found later on in this newsletter. It is my firm belief that such positions should primarily be focused upon service to the community. It is about providing young people with the opportunity to contribute positively to different areas of school life whilst acknowledging that effective leadership and true virtue is not necessarily dependent upon fixed conditions or attributes. Our team has expanded but I believe that is absolutely in line with the greatly expanded ambition of this wonderful School. Put simply, we are doing a huge amount and it would seem wholly counterintuitive to reject the good intentions of those who want to serve. The processing in chapel and traditions are great but, ultimately, we are all here to serve each other and not ourselves. We will have our first team meeting (via Zoom) next Thursday afternoon and I am very much looking forward to all that our new appointees have to offer.

Thank you for Polypropylene
Thank you so much to those parents who responded to our plea for more polypropylene. We think that we now have sufficient supplies to keep us going. Lee Hodgetts has been an absolute star in terms of getting the manufacture of PPE up and running. I am acting as his willing apprentice and we hope to get some of our remaining boarders involved in assembling the various parts over the course of the next week or two.

We are providing advice and support for those in local schools who are grappling with some aspects of online learning. Similarly, we have provided guidance for a number of local families during these times. Do please let us know if we can provide any support to those whom you know to be struggling at the moment. Wherever you are in the world, we hope that you have an enjoyable weekend and, as always, our thoughts and love are with you.

Best wishes,