Headmaster’s Blog

The most damaging phrase in the language is ‘We’ve always done it this way’. So said Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper. And she was right: to the question ‘I wonder why we do that in this way?’ the answer ‘because that’s how we’ve always done it’ is rarely a satisfactory one. (Rarely, though not never). Ralph Waldo Emmerson, clearly thinking along similar lines, declared that ‘A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds’. In other words, great if something works ok; even greater if it can work better.

Throughout the period of lockdown, schools and institutions the world over have had to rethink the way they have always done things. Sweeping the papers off the desk and taking a fresh run at things from a (very new) starting point has pushed companies and communities into reimagining how they do things (and among the best will lead later down the track to a greater taking stock of why they do things). Whatever the sector, where the stepping out into this brave new world has been most sure-footed has been where mechanisms and processes have changed, and where values and core principles have not.

Pupils have risen nobly to the challenges of remote learning, staff have been sensational in their response to the challenges of remote teaching, and parents and guardians have responded similarly admirably to the challenges of juggling home supervision with busy work schedules. Whilst as a staff body we are physically apart, our new way of doing things has allowed us to meet more regularly and more readily: bringing Prep and Pre-Prep colleagues together to share whole-school discussions is eminently more doable thanks to dialling in from home. The Year 8 Leavers’ Programme – the much-loved three-week post-exam period for our 13+ graduands – has had a digital rebirth, and again our new way of doing things has enabled us (as one small part of this programme of enrichment) to put before the pupils a fascinating line-up of top-flight visiting speakers. Our (all new) ECS Live Lecture Series began last week, and our leavers-to-be have been treated to some stimulating and memorable lectures from a range of busy professionals such as would have been unthinkable prior to the launching of ECS:Learning@Home.

I hope that as a School ECS will be able to look back at its C-19 response and be proud of the change-embracing and forward-thinking initiatives that have been launched among our community in order to maintain and preserve our historic and deeply-embedded ethos. ‘An ancient foundation with traditional values and a modern approach’ is a strap line that, now more than ever, seems to encapsulate our School community.

19 June 2020
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