Tempus Fugit

I have a real fascination with the cyclical nature of the school year. It reaches far beyond the walls of any school. It permeates the very fabric of societal routine. It sets a pace and a metronome for all children and indeed their families for years of their life. Whatever constraints and challenges it might bring, the shape of each school year is reliably consistent. 

I have come to recognise them as pockets in time; replete with the finer details that make the experience unique for each child and each teacher, each year, whilst maintaining a pattern that is incredibly familiar and oddly comforting. We enter as one version of ourselves and depart it, older, and (usually) wiser, stronger and certainly changed by all that has been. Our children enter it in roomy uniforms, armed with a full complement of sports kit a pencil case of fresh pens, and more stationery than they know what to do with, and leave it wearing a blazer where the cuff seems to be grazing the elbow and the shirt no longer one they can tuck into their skirt or trousers.

Michaelmas (Autumn) terms are always incredibly busy with the fervour of new beginnings, new friendships, implemented initiatives, and high team spirit. The school buzzes with the purpose awakened, and realigned and provides an opportunity for everyone to start “afresh”. The Lent (Spring) term is the term of “making a difference”. It is invariably the time when things come into their own – courses start to come together, pupils, having developed good routines work at pace, initiatives bed in, and sports teams reach the higher rounds of competitions. Everyone is pushed to their limits. Time flies and for many the most significant changes occur in this term with spring and lighter days bringing joy, optimism and a renewed sense of hope at the end of it.

But it is the Summer Terms that I hold closest to my heart. It is the culmination of all that has been invested and achieved not just in any one year, but for our Upper Sixth, across the entirety of their school career. As they walk across the stage on Prize Day to receive their awards, I imagine their parents who in that moment perceive the four-year-old they were and the eighteen-year-old they are as one, and wonder where the time in between has gone and how it has managed to pass so fast. At the same time, I am sure that their hearts swell with pride, as do ours, because of the wonderful people they have become. 

There are very few moments in life when it is easy to pause and get a sense of perspective. 
This week many of our Upper Sixth have finished their final exam. Their final part of formal schooling is now complete. It is a moment that elicits feelings of elation, and pride but also reflection, perhaps a little emptiness, and certainly excitement mixed with apprehension that comes from the very defined end of one chapter but not yet the beginning of a new one. 

The foothills of adulthood.

And as our children stand at this threshold, ready to embark on the beginning of the rest of their lives, it is inevitable that we and they ask the question “Are they ready?” and “Do they feel ready?”

Whether as parents or as educators this is the thought, the moment, we should always keep in mind. We cannot predict the contours and curves of our lives, let alone those of our children, we cannot predict their careers or their friends, we cannot predict the specific challenges they are going to face, although we know they will inevitably be challenged. 

The education we give them, the experiences they have, the things they learn, the people they meet, the places they visit, the books they read, the things they watch, the moments where they fell down and picked themselves back up mould and create the person who steps out into the world. So we have to be endlessly reflective, dynamically adaptive, sensitive to the changing tides of societal norms, responsive to the evolving needs of the children in front of us and be prepared to learn and change ourselves.

For this reason, education can never be static and we are constantly evolving, adapting and reflecting. We are inspired each year by the amazing journeys we have had the privilege to be a part of. And each year at this time we are fuelled by the sense of mission and purpose to ensure that the next generation of leavers, when they step out onto that threshold, are in every regard, down to every individual, all that they were destined to be.

All best wishes,

Dina Porovic

Senior Deputy Head