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Headmaster’s Blog

Well – there it is, folks. We made it. Half term. Well done to everyone for your hard work, your flexibility, your adaptability, your openness, your creativity, your resilience, and – above all – your fellowship as you have supported the ECS:Learning@Home programme with your children at home.

None of us – not staff nor pupil nor parent – had ever done even one online ECS lesson on 15th April. And here we are just over 5 weeks later having notched up a whole raft of remote lessons. There have been stumbling blocks and challenges along the way, of course. The occasional melt-down (usually from the children – but not always) will have been a feature in houses across the land over the last few weeks; but so too – I hope – will have been successes in learning, progress, confidence, laughter, fun, bike rides, songs, artwork, fitness challenges, interactions, family and friends. I hope that it will be these memories that will last in the minds of you and your children when we look back on this extraordinary time at some point in the future.

I wonder what your best bits of this half-term have been? It would be a difficult job to try to edit a highlights package for the 5 weeks that we have just enjoyed together – simply because there are so many moments that would be up for contention to be included in the final cut. I started this week’s blog determined to give you my Top Five Remote Learning Moments. It was too difficult to whittle the longlist down to five. So I had a go at a Top Ten. Too hard. So I went for a Heart-FM-style Top 40. Even then, culling some really excellent memories and moments was too tough. I couldn’t cast aside the awesome obstacle course videos or the Henri Rouseau drawings; I couldn’t lose the daily bingo challenges nor the fabulous French alphabet movies; I was loathed to ditch the Chorister enrichment sessions or the Pre-Prep Golden Assemblies; and I just didn’t want to bin the Chat Space moments, form times, science projects or peace rocks. Which is my favourite culinary creation I’ve seen? Too many to choose from (though George’s unique baguettes will live long in the memory). The best sports compilation? I can’t possibly pick.
Instead, I think what I will offer you is my Top 3 Quirky Moments from our remote learning this half of term.

There’s the wonderful story of Isabelle T in Year 4 who, on hearing a loud crashing sound during the morning on-line welcome, abandoned the meeting to go and investigate. A few minutes later she reappeared on camera, gently holding two baby birds who had, as it transpired, just careered in through her window. (Both birds were fine and released back into the garden shortly after the end of form time).

Mrs Oelman, much-loved Head of Nursery, discovered the hard way the importance of uploading the correct video to her class page: rather than the warm and friendly 10-minute welcome she had spent the morning creating, she manged to share with our youngest pupils a 40-second video of her sitting at her desk and – in her own words – shuffling papers and sniffing. A different and unexpected start to the day for our Nursery children.

But top of my list is the glorious story of one of Mrs Lake-John’s Year 7 Maths lessons. A few minutes into what I understand was actually an end-of-topic test, Toby C requested permission – very politely – to leave the lesson. A stickler for discipline, Mrs LJ asked why he needed to remove himself from the class. The answer? To pop outside to assist with the birth of a cow. A short while later Toby reappeared on screen and, in his brilliantly understated way, simply wrote on the chat stream: ‘delivered at 12.37; all well’.

Whether its been cows, birds, typos or gaffes, I hope you too have some quirky and fun memories of our first ever half term of remote learning. Well done to you all – and have a wonderful half-term break.

22 May 2020
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