“In times of joy…”

“In times of joy, all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag.”

W.H. Auden

There is one more week to go before the half term holiday. By then I feel sure that we will be ready for it and the chance to have a moment to recharge batteries before heading into the next phase of the year will be most welcome. As I moved around the school this week, I noticed that despite the inevitable weariness that comes with five weeks of school in winter there was a surprising amount of joy to be found.

My days usually start opening car doors for some of our youngest members of the school community. The sheer delight of a Nursery or Reception pupil who happens to spot one of their friends arriving at the same time is uplifting indeed. This element of school life, the making of friends and building of bonds is as important as anything else that we learn through school. On Thursday I met with a group of Year 10s to commend them on their haul of green slips. Again, great to see pride and satisfaction being taken in their achievements; we are a society that generally takes little time to dwell on success and accomplishment (whatever it looks like), all too often we look on to the next thing without enjoying the success in the moment. Also, nice to see that even adolescents can get excited about a packet of Breton biscuits and a cup of hot chocolate – there is a real delight in small treats.

I spoke with a pupil this week who was explaining that she had written a poem over the course of the last few days and her description of finding a literary flow was inspiring to hear. Who knows? We may well find an opportunity to share in her words soon. But how good to hear of a young person losing themselves in something that they love doing.

Yesterday, some of the school buses were late. Blockages in tunnels under La Défense the cause. When I met the late-comers as they came through the school gate I asked how they were doing – “absolutely fine sir” was the answer. Big smiles after two hours sat on a bus, perhaps another example that simply having the time to spend with our friends, even on a bus and in a traffic jam can be joyful indeed.

The staff have not escaped this opportunity for fun. Every Friday just before this newsletter goes live a few staff meet for a fitness session – of late their activities have become more varied. They’ve looked to recover their sense of fun and have played games that they haven’t played for years – they have also enjoyed the benefits of a year 7 PE lesson. Joy can indeed be found in unexpected places!

Announcements today suggest that when we return after half term we will have a new set of protocols to follow. These may well lead to a slight easing in the restrictions we have been working under this academic year. This is joyful news indeed.

In May we will be hosting a Festival of Discovery. The purpose of this day of activity is for parents and friends of the school to gain a flavour of what goes on here every day – you too can feel the spirit that makes this the school all that it is.

Nicholas Hammond