March 11

Returning to the school building

I am writing this on day two of the full (physical) return of all pupils to schools and I can hear the squeals of laughter and happy chat as girls go past my office on the way to lunch. The preparation for the return has been considerable. The routines and systems are still not at pre-pandemic normal but the girls don’t care! They have come back bursting with excitement at seeing friends and teachers; their happiness is a pure tonic in what has been –and for many continues to be –a very anxious time.

Some headlines through the pandemic have added layers of worry for parents which, from our experience at Juniors, have been unnecessary. Long articles about teacher resistance to a return to school have not reflected the reality here. Of course people have different perceptions of risk and some have been initially nervous but our staff have been united in believing children are taught best in school and that is where they should be. We are all delighted to be here with the girls.

It has been irritating to hear the view expressed in some quarters that teachers working remotely have had a soft ride. I cannot imagine that any of our parents think that way; many of you have emailed me with admiration for the level of patience and creativity you have seen in Guided Home Learning. Our teaching team has worked incredibly hard. We will obviously take away some real positives from the pandemic experience, keeping elements which have improved our provision but we are all extremely pleased to be teaching children face to face and not via Microsoft Teams.

Probably the most worrying headline has been around the need to “catch-up”. Of course there will have been a whole variety of home learning experiences even with-in our own school. Some parents wanted and were able to immerse themselves in the process, others simply could not or did not need to. No matter how disappointing an Ofsted rating you think you achieved as a parent, your child will not be in the “lost generation”. Those children are the ones who accessed nothing or close to it, who had no resources and minimal support. There is most definitely a moral imperative to do something about that imbalance in society, but your children do not need intensive tuition. As in the first lockdown, our pupils have actually covered more curriculum than in normal times; what they need now is to be learning and working with friends, getting out in the fresh air, sharing ideas and conversations and having some fun.

Of course we are not out of the woods yet, we all still need to be careful but with the vaccine roll out being so successfully delivered it seems like we dare hope for better times. Looking at the beautiful rainbow given to me by the Nursery parents, it really does symbolise the optimism we can start to feel.  

Please also do accept a huge well done yourselves – for surviving the stay at home period and delivering such joyful, happy girls back to us this week. I need to come to an end now; the Year 3 disco is calling me!

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