“It is a narrow mind…”

“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.”

George Eliot

In a recent meeting discussion turned (as it almost inevitably does) to the COVID situation. This term, the School has not been operating as normal, nor indeed has the world outside of the School gates. Our pupils have been working well and have had the opportunity to enjoy something that resembles business as usual but as the term goes on external restrictions are causing frustrations. Seeing the benefits of patience and dealing with frustrations are all challenges for young people and lockdown is certainly testing for them. As a school we are endeavouring to offer not only support but also a necessary release in this challenging situation. A quick sounding of Year 10s in the lunch queue suggests that there will be fewer concerns around lockdown this weekend as the newest version of a well-known video game has been released. They would by their own admission barely surface from their bedrooms this weekend during normal times. I’m not sure that this is what I talk about when extolling the benefits of subject mastery but a recent ISFE-commissioned Ipsos MORI report suggest that these games have a positive effect with 30% of players saying video games have helped them feel happier, less anxious and less isolated and 29% of players claim that video games had a positive impact on their mental health during lockdown, especially those who play multi-player games. Perhaps the Year 10s have a point.

It is of course very easy to dwell upon the disruption and restrictions. There aren’t always obvious upsides to this second period of lockdown, a period of time that seems to be more challenging than the first. We are certainly glad to be in school. The rate of infection seems to be falling and there appears to be some optimism about the forthcoming holiday season. Many scientists seem to be certain that they have a vaccine that may very well unlock this conundrum. Who knows, by the summer this all may seem like a distant memory, a period of history soon to be poured over. As for the scars it will undoubtedly leave, many will be affected and will continue to feel the effects of the virus long after the streets are full of people and the shops have opened again.

Back to the meeting. Looking ahead to the coming weeks we discussed how we are going to adapt as many of our usual activities for the last weeks of November and December. Performances will be online, there will be Christmas lunches and talent shows will happen. When we looked back over the term there is one thing that stood out as being out of the ordinary levels of pupils’ academic achievement have surpassed those of other years, perhaps as other distractions have narrowed the focus has sharpened. Our teachers have worked incredibly hard to provide stimulating lessons despite restrictions on group work and other elements of effective learning that are routine here. The pupils have also channelled their energy and we have indeed seen an overall rise in performance. Homework is being done, our libraries are busy, class time is being used effectively and an enthusiasm for learning is obvious. Three weeks or so out from the end of a long term, and under the current conditions that has to be worth a “well done one and all”. So, consider yourself duly praised!

Nicholas Hammond