Recently we welcomed back our Year 5 and 6 girls from their residential trips to Liddington and France respectively. They left on Monday morning and returned on Friday afternoon, exhausted but happy with some feeling very emotional. Much the same could be said for the teachers!
For most of the girls, the trips had been eagerly anticipated rites of passage – four nights away from parents, sharing bedrooms with friends and having days packed with activities. For some children, the school residential is the first taste of this sort of independence and can be a daunting prospect. Often, parents worry more than the girls.
At times like this, the immediacy of social media and emails can be a double-edged sword. We like to tweet happy pictures and information about the trip and teachers upload amazing pictures to Firefly but how much is too much? If your child is not at the front of the photo – or worse still, is in it with a face like thunder – is that worse than no picture at all? Internet reception on trips is patchy at best and unreliable; ski trips can be even worse. Teachers have been seen balancing Mac Books in the most unlikely situations in desperate attempts to send images; is that the best way for them to spend their time when they could be interacting with the girls?
At a party recently, a dad (not from Blackheath High School) suggested to me that we should tell parents that if there is a disaster, they would hear about it on the news! In the absence of a tabloid headline, they could safely assume all was well – literally no news is good news. We are not about to adopt such a hard-line approach but there are lessons for parents as well as children on the trips. Your girls are growing up and becoming independent. They need space to develop without every minute being recorded for posterity. So to prepare for Year 5, make sure your daughter has experienced at least a few sleepovers and follow the example of one parent this year who had a restorative few days in Ibiza and was wonderfully chilled at the pick-up! Most importantly, trust us; keeping your girls safe is the most important job we do and we do it well.