“Too much self-centred attitude…”

“Too much self-centred attitude, you see, brings, you see, isolation. Result: loneliness, fear, anger. The extreme self-centred attitude is the source of suffering.”

The Dalai Lama

Three years ago, we were in lockdown and the world had stopped. This week it was clear that we have left those days far, far behind. Lessons are face to face, we have a full programme of extra-curricular activities and there are trips and sports fixtures being played. Drama of a very different kind will be seen in both schools next week. The lockdown seems a very long time ago. Last week saw parents in school, something that was unimaginable not so very long ago, but was an enormous amount of fun. Roll on the next Festival of Discovery.

Back in the days of isolation we were readjusting to learning at home and developing a variety of strategies to keep learning. Whatever we achieved in this regard, we also have to recognise that for many this was a time of anxiety and worry. For some, ground was lost, social skills were not given time to develop, and we will be seeing the effects in some pupils for years to come. We will have to work so support these pupils.

Just because we are back to normal it does not mean that there will be no challenges or issues. What is different is that there is a greater opportunity for our pupils to achieve a sense of balance. No pupil should be simply working all the time on academic tasks, nor should they be in a position where they are doing no work at all. Tests and assessments cause a degree of focus, but it should not be to the level of panic. We should all be taking time to do some exercise and get sensible amounts of sleep. There is still time for learning to take place before the end of the term.

This week has been one in which our pupils have looked beyond the confines of the school and indeed are looking well beyond the local environment. For example, our Year 11 pupils are considering A level choices and the path their education will take beyond school. They have also spent time connecting with the situation of others and giving of themselves. Many decided to run or walk on Thursday to draw attention to modern slavery, others joined in with the sport relief activities today. A glance at the Freedom Wall provides proof, if it were needed, that kindness is at the very core of what we believe. Once again, our young people have chosen to take the opportunity to look beyond their own situation, it’s a long way from lockdown. Perhaps having the experience of companionship, community and the collective spirit being removed, these opportunities and experiences are enjoyed with greater appreciation. If nothing else, we should both remember and reflect upon the effects of being removed from companionship and ensure that we make the most of learning from each other in this remarkable community of ours. Conversely, as the world turns now at its customary, furious, rate we should take the small positives that isolation taught us; to enjoy the small things in life that we might otherwise take for granted.

Nicholas Hammond