Time to throw caution to the wind? Maybe not just yet…

There isn’t a school prize for the most amusing thing that has been written in the course of the year but if there were, two strong candidates for the award can be found in the newsletter today. Wonderful, inventive, and playful work from Arnav and Austen that really will brighten your day – even if you like Marmite. Who knew that there was a suitable rhyme for IBAN, not something that had ever crossed my mind that’s for sure? Belloc’s Cautionary Tales are of course meant to amuse but buried in many are some valuable words of wisdom. This is perhaps a useful theme to explore at this time of tentative reopening.

During the course of the week, we have had recreational sporting activities for pupils after school. There have been discussions about Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions and plans have been conceived regarding the Key Stage 3 activity week later this term. All of this seems very normal, these are the sort of discussions that take place every year but overhanging each and every discussion this year is the question of how cautious should we be? I suspect there are few in our community who would call for an immediate and full resumption of all the School’s activities (even if that were possible) and similarly there would be few who do not recognise that simply not resuming these opportunities is detrimental to the mental welfare of our young people. As a school we are very keen on maintaining outdoor activities where possible although unseasonal rain and hail make this a little more challenging than normal. Possible relaxation of rules around congregating makes it likely that there will be more opportunities to mix with others, certainly a good thing as lack of contact with peers has been a major challenge for our young people this year. Sadly, such relaxations of guidelines are not always easy to interpret, and we will be doing our utmost in school to make decisions in the best interests of pupils and with the correct degree of caution and confidence. Please be patient.

How much freedom or independence we should allow young people is one of the most difficult of all parenting or educational questions. The recent British Play Survey suggests that we are becoming ever more cautious as to when we allow children independence – the study suggests that children are now older (10.7 years on average) when they are permitted to play outside unsupervised by an adult (outside school). A generation ago, and perhaps with rose tinted spectacles, the age reported was 8.9 years. There is, of course, no right answer to this most difficult question, much depends on the individuals involved, but we do need to consider the importance of allowing children the opportunity to develop their sense of self and level of independence. In a year when outdoor play is more important than ever, deciding what is the correct level of independence is difficult to achieve. There are many new dangers and also more distractions to keep children indoors but perhaps in this brave new, soon to be COVID lessened world, we should consider what the right level is for our young people.

Have a great weekend.

Nicholas Hammond