The virtual world within which we are now obliged to live is full of surprises. The school campus is stunningly beautiful and bathed in glorious sunshine, yet we are unaccustomed to quietness in our lives and I miss the hustle and bustle of people coming in and out of my office. Thankfully, we remain connected through the wonders of digital technology but we are physically apart. Our teaching staff have never been busier and yet the geographical parameters of their working lives have closed in upon them. Those of us fortunate enough to be in lockdown on the School site are extremely blessed for we have plenty of space within which to safely roam. My heart goes out to those who are confined to city apartments and it is clear that this has the potential to cause real tension within families. We need each other but there are times when we need our own space so that we can process and reflect.
There hardly seem to be enough hours in the day in order to accomplish all that we have set ourselves to achieve. The educational and administrative aspects of the school continue unabated. Similarly, our recruitment and marketing team are hard at work ensuring that we begin September 2020 in as strong a position as we were in the Autumn of 2019. The work that they do is vitally important in terms of ensuring the long term vitality of our School community. Other colleagues are working flat out – especially those caring for our remaining boarders on site. It is lovely to receive such positive feedback from our staff and pupils at this time. I am particularly heartened that friends and colleagues in other independent schools are following our response very closely because they recognise that we are ahead of the curve in terms of the quality of our communication and the scope and ambition of our educational programme. Initially, I worried that it would be difficult to maintain momentum but having dipped in and out of online lessons this week, I am beginning to realise that my fears were misplaced in this regard. What astonishes me is how quickly teachers and children have adapted. Six months ago, I would have struggled to have imagined that we would cope so well during such circumstances. Much of our success is down to the good humour and resilience of our staff. They are determined to serve our children with every last fibre of their beings and we all owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
his week we are focusing upon mental health and wellbeing and this forms a central theme of our Question and Answer session today, for which I am joined by Catherine Stacker (Head of Lower School) and Fiona, my wife. I hope that you are enjoying our online content. We have plenty more features planned for this term. Heartened by the rapturous reception that their exquisite singing has received during recent times, there are even rumours of another staff song and a link up with a local primary school not unaccustomed to the bright lights! I should also thank my brother Andrew and his friend Pavlos for playing the soundtrack to our short Spring film entitled ‘The Place we love so well’. There is a reason why he became a pianist and, well, I did not!
Finally, our Year 11 and Year 13 start their study leave today in the most unusual of circumstances. They are working hard and I know that they will be keen to approach their forthcoming assessments with real determination and a sense of pride in all that they have achieved. I am so pleased that we have put in place the Rossall Diploma because the proposals that OFQUAL have published are deeply flawed and, frankly, constitute little more than a lazy fudge. As HMC have suggested, it is clear that universities will quite likely want to consider all extant evidence when making decisions in the summer. Our Upper Sixth Formers hold absolutely superb offers and Stephen Prest and his team will be working extremely hard to ensure that these translate into positive outcomes.
There have been many stories to hearten us this week but perhaps none more so than 99 year old Captain Tom Moore who has raised over £18 million for the NHS. Commissioned as an officer in 1941, he is now serving his country by walking laps of his garden. He has captured the hearts of the nation and is demonstrating the good humour and resolve that will see us emerge from this period stronger than ever. Captain Moore, everyone at Rossall salutes you and we wish you a Happy Hundredth Birthday on 30th April. You are a true legend!
All that remains, is for me to wish you all the best for the forthcoming week. Wherever you are, please know that you remain in our thoughts and prayers. Also, do remember that you are part of a wonderful family whose members are all here to support you in the weeks ahead.