We have made it through a superlatively challenging year and now it is time for our children to turn off their screens and enjoy the holidays. Whilst our summer holiday plans might be on hold for a while longer yet, we can at least look forward to the beginning of the next academic year with a sense of real confidence and excitement. It has been an absolute joy to have the Nursery and Junior School back with us for these past few weeks. Yesterday, I attended the Junior School Prize Day and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to celebrate the success of our younger pupils. Matt Turner and his team of dedicated teachers have provided us all with so much support during these times. Writing as a parent, I feel incredibly fortunate that my three daughters are part of such a lovely School. Matt Turner’s cheery and personable approach radiates warmth and good humour. However, during these past few months, I have been impressed with his steely commitment to ensuring that we continue to educate our children regardless of any obstacle placed in our path. The reopening of the Junior School has been a tremendous success not least because of the forensic degree of planning which took place well in advance of welcoming back our pupils. When Katie Lee bid farewell to the Junior School last summer who could possibly have predicted that she would play such a leading role in reopening the Junior School less than a year later in the wake of a global pandemic? Katie Lee has a real ability to ‘get things done’ and always brings solutions to the table before most of us have even identified the problem. Katie and Matt…..thank you.
Our support staff deserve a huge amount of thanks. Within housekeeping and catering, we have had to adopt radically different approaches whilst sometimes operating with a reduced number of staff. During the most difficult days in early April, it was often the cheerfulness and optimism of our support staff which sustained us as we sat in empty and cold buildings interacting with our pupils and families via digital technology. Nobody should ever question the courage or stoicism of people on the Fylde – they are a people apart. I hope that recent events will serve to redefine what heroism looks like. It is not necessarily about swashbuckling heroes, though I used to have an unhealthy appetite for such adventure stories when I was in primary school. It is about the quiet stoicism demonstrated by our health workers and caregivers. Courage is apparent in the actions of all of those who have served others despite personal risk. We have all learned a good deal about those around us during the last few months and most of what we have learned has been positive and affirming.
Those of our staff who kept coming to work during lockdown to care for our remaining boarders and children of key workers never once complained and never once considered placing their own welfare ahead of the welfare of our children. That took real courage and serves as a great reminder of the interdependency of all members of this community.
We certainly had plenty of laughs amidst all the worry. One of my favourite moments of this term was when Vicky and Heather both confidently asserted that the security cat was pregnant and that they could actually feel the kittens moving. Fiona asserted that this was pretty unlikely given that ‘Security Cat’ was most definitely male. Not content with this assertion, they compelled Will Collins to take the poor cat to the vet where its maleness was confirmed….along with some strict dietary advice regarding its inclination towards portliness. Thank you Heather and Vicky for always looking after us and never failing to put a smile on our faces. You embody the positive spirit that has kept this community so close during these times. There have been many other moments of fun and lightness. Who knew that you had to pedal Amy Pendlebury’s bike backwards in order to slow down – no brakes on her all-American bike! I thought I had mastered my daughter’s hoverboard and was showing off to several colleagues before it hit a pothole and I was thrown off it backwards, hurting more than just my dignity as I crashed to the ground. It is probably best not to tell our groundsmen Tim and Andy that I taught myself how to drive all of their machinery from Youtube videos and, yes, I did hide the plastic support for the gutter having attempted to drive into the shed without lowering the roll bar!. Of course, if I had watched ‘Tractor Mike’s’ video entitled ‘When the Roll Bar is Your Enemy’, I might have avoided that particular mishap.
Mowing, vacuuming, cleaning, mucking out (that is the goat shed..not my daughters’ bedrooms!) painting, zooming, planning, singing, Dad dancing (NEVER AGAIN) are just some of the activities that I have busied myself with during these last few months. I hope that all of my colleagues are going to add sleeping and relaxing to that list….at least until mid-August. We have never stopped because we love this school to the moon back and it has always felt as if a moment spent sitting down was a moment wasted. We feel very close to the people, the place and everything about this community. Two years have passed since I arrived at Rossall. I do not regret one moment of my time here and if I could do it all over again I would in a heartbeat. People used to tell me that Rossall was a ‘hidden gem’ or ‘well-kept secret’. Rossall is now the world’s worst kept secret which, all things considered, is a good thing. At this stage, it is clear that more and more families want to join us because of our commitment to each boy and the fact that families quickly feel part of our wider community. We work together with parents in true partnership. We have faced real adversity together and we have emerged in a stronger position than ever. This only happens when staff, pupils and parents all pull together and embrace similar values.
Better days will come but I do want you to know that we are here throughout the holidays and there will never be a time when we mind being contacted by you. We are here to provide whatever support we can during these times and we are very happy to have a quick catchup chat or to meet in person should the need arise. I know that the Learning Development Department will be keeping touch with some families throughout the holidays and please do not feel that you must not or should not bother us. I would always prefer that we are on hand to help.
Goodbyes are not my forte and, in any case, we will welcome all of our Year 13 back when the time is right. In the meantime, keep safe, keep in touch and we wish you every blessing as we emerge from these troubled times.
All best wishes,
Mr Jeremy Quartermain