Welcome back to term! I hope that you were all able to enjoy some rest and peace over the half-term break, and that you found a moment or two to make the most of the glorious weather.
And so here we are. We have arrived at the next phase of ‘new normal’ for education. It’s been quite the mission to dot all the Is and cross all the Ts to allow us to get to this point. Sometimes it has been quite the challenge just to locate the Is and the Ts. Often, just when one was convinced one had nailed down a T and had pretty much completed the crossing thereof, one would discover that it was in fact to be treated like an I. At frequent moments additional letters altogether have been introduced into the mix. Sometimes the overarching spelling has been questionable; and occasionally schools have struggled to work out which alphabet is being used. But we have emerged blinking into the sun that greeted us on Monday 1st June, when the national ‘wider re-opening’ of schools officially began. (The notion that any school like ours has been ‘closed’ is a risible one – we have probably been more ‘open’ in some senses of the word than ever before. What a good thing that is: one of the many elements that we will want to take back with us once this is all over).
We have been pleased to welcome back to School some of our children in the Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. There’s a roughly even split across the School of those remaining at home with the ECS:Learning@Home programme and those coming onto the School site. We hope that the mixed economy we are offering is proving to be helpful to ECS families and we are all keeping our eyes and ears peeled for any further news as to whether other year-groups might be able to return to the site at some stage this term. There’s nothing to report on that front currently, but when the scrabble bag is next tipped out I will of course share any resultant words with you at the earliest opportunity. Here’s hoping for a triple word score for the remaining year-groups.
It is exciting for us to have some of our pupils back with us, and it continues to be a great pleasure for us as teachers to interact with all of our pupils via the Teams platform or via Tapestry. But it’s also quite strange. The challenges facing all of us are strange – delivering lessons face to face as well as remotely; maybe learning in the classroom but still via the computer; perhaps bringing one child to School but keeping a sibling at home. The environment that our returning pupils have come back to is strange – one-way systems; hazard tape blocking doorways; desks spread out and playtimes spent far apart from each other. And the uncertainty about what lies ahead is strange – wondering whether other year-groups will get to come back; thinking about what a school day will look like in September; wondering when Evensong can start again.
But – and I said this to the pupils in our Prep Assembly this morning – the good folk of ECS have already shown that they can adapt and respond magnificently. The biggest ‘strangeness’ has already happened – when we shifted overnight to remote learning – and the response from pupils, staff and parents was terrific. And so we should be confident that we can respond well to this next phase, too.
To help with that we are pleased to welcome back our Director of Sport Mrs Emma Ross, who will be leading a school-wide focus on wellbeing as we move into the second half of term. During this time of ‘strangeness’, looking out for the wellbeing (both mental and physical) of the ECS community is going to be super important, and you will see from the Week 8 Update from Mr Bartlett that there is an exciting daily programme of activities and challenges for all.
Talking of wellbeing, I suspect that one particular group of pupils who will be feeling at ease and relaxed will be our Year 8 pupils. They have today completed their public examinations – the culmination of some serious hard work during their time at ECS – and they have certainly earned a relaxing celebratory weekend before their Leavers’ Programme begins next week.
Well done to all on a terrific first week back. It’s hard to believe there are (already) only 23.5 days left until the end of term!
Have a peaceful weekend.