“For now the time of gifts is gone”

“For now the time of gifts is gone”

Twelfth Night, Louis MacNeice

So, 2020 the year to forget. The year to write off as being the one where the virus hit or the one where we had to stay at home. A year that we are probably keen to put behind us before we move on to something new, something safer, something better. But before we do, and like any conscientious pupil we need to review our work. What if anything has this mostly dreadful experience taught us? What will we do differently when we put the face coverings away and stop squirting gel on our hands at every possible opportunity?

One thing that may well be worth remembering is that no matter what the challenges, our young people have vaulted over the obstacles in their path. No public exams – no problem, I will just keep on learning as if there were.

Disrupted learning – no problem, I will embrace learning remotely. We’ve seen determination and independence and grit in the manner that many have approached the difficult times. We’ve seen compassion and kindness when we were all back in school.

Whilst I don’t think lockdown will have convinced everyone that being at school is best, I won’t forget the sheer delight on children’s faces when they were able to return to school and see their friends. School as an institution is important, there is a good deal that can be done virtually but being together (albeit socially distanced) is better than being online. This element of life in school should never be underestimated.

Appreciation is also something that has been valued. I know that colleagues have appreciated supportive messages from parents about what is going well. I think we have seen greater levels of appreciation for our catering staff and maintenance team. Without our cleaners then we’d simply not have been able to open. We appreciate it when you trust us with your children, and we will certainly appreciate handing them back to you on Wednesday afternoon!

Desperate times allow us to focus on new ways of seeing the world. Confined to a kilometre around a house or apartment and trips and fixtures being suspended leads to a real mentality of appreciating the smaller things in life, the things that surround us. A trip to the bakery is a major highlight, the chance to see our beautiful campus moving from spring to summer to autumn to winter… inspiring. Having the chance to spend time with other people – we’ve perhaps learned that there may well be things that we can appreciate beyond the material.

But what is the most important lesson learnt? Perhaps, we are a little more patient than before. From “you are on mute” to “I’ll have to take a little longer to get to my lesson,” I wonder if we might have become a little more patient than we once were. I hope so, for there is every chance we will need this patience in the coming months. Science has made great strides forward, but we are not quite out of the woods yet. Time will tell.

And above all this was a year in which we have had to give thanks, a time to be grateful. As a school community much has been achieved. It has been a time of sadness but also a time of gifts. And that is perhaps a seasonally appropriate place to call a halt to this extraordinary year.
Have a wonderful holiday.

Nicholas Hammond