“Hope is the thing with feathers…”

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul…”

Emily Dickinson

A little under three weeks to go until the end of term and some good news from the President. It seems that all the hard work and self-control that has been in evidence from our pupils has not been in vain. Reasons for optimism are starting to show themselves. As I wrote last week, we have been impressed with both the rate and progress of pupils’ academic endeavours, something of which they can feel proud indeed. Now we can look forward to doing some of the things that we really enjoy outside of lessons, including a limited amount of outdoor sport. Pent up steam will undoubtedly be discharged.

So as from Monday pupils will be able to spend a little more time playing organised or supervised team sports outside, but other change will be slow to emerge. I’m sure that everyone will make the most of the easing of restrictions around being out of doors and the lure of retail therapy may well prove a long overdue distraction for others; face coverings will be more important than ever.

The end of term will see a further lifting of restrictions but not so early that it will benefit us as a school. Happily increasing options for the Christmas break will benefit families who have spent time apart. Sadly, many will still face the stress of separation. At a time which is difficult for a good proportion of our community it has been

extremely heartening to see our pupils thinking of others through the Love in a Box Scheme. These gifts will bring happiness, a commodity in short supply this year.

One of the most difficult aspects of this entire situation is that our year groups have not been able to mix as they normally would. Our school is a relatively small school and one of its strengths is that pupils of different ages have the opportunity to mix, valuable learning can take place though these interactions and that has been something missing over the last few weeks with bubbles, distancing and varying degrees of separation. Collaborative learning has also been a once normal element of school life that has to be restricted. Perhaps when the New Year arrives, we will once more be able to learn by working together, perform as groups and learn from each other.

All positive so far and whilst I don’t wish to rain on any parades (particularly at this time of Thanksgiving) I hope you will forgive a word of caution. I’m not an epidemiologist, I’m an historian. I don’t know about virus spread patterns but I can see that after periods of greater interaction infections rates tend to rise, and to that end I would ask expectations to be managed about what restrictions we will face in January. The New Year can often bring that feeling of “here we go again”, next year perhaps more so than most.

In the meantime, we can do some more of what we have become so good at – enjoying what we can do, living for today and making the most of what we have. There has been plenty of this at the BSP this week.

Nicholas Hammond