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The Snow Day is Dead: Long Live the Snow Day!

They’ll be a collective sigh of relief from teachers and parents across the country tonight: half term has finally arrived, and we can all take a break from the joys and challenges of home learning.

And what a first half of term it’s been. Parents and pupils have responded magnificently as we have rolled out ECS: Learning 2021 – our new-and-improved remote learning platform – and have been warm and generous in their feedback for a set-up which provides live teaching of all subjects by all teachers to all classes, as well as prioritising pastoral care and offering opportunities for socialising, extra-curricular involvement, pupil voice, before-and-after-school extras, assemblies, coffee mornings, and performance platforms. And I take my hat off to the sensational team of ECS staff for the extraordinary work that they have put into the term. Our provision is exceptional, and that’s because our people are exceptional.

Remote learning means, of course, that you don’t need to be in School to be at School. The emerging benefits of this and of what it gives access to – and to whom it can give that access – are being extrapolated as entirely-online schools begin to appear after two phases of lockdown. And it means that Blended Learning is here to stay. Nipped out for a music lesson? No bother – check your class channel to see what the homework was. Away from school for a scholarship audition? Fine – log into Teams and open the lesson resources when you’re back. And perhaps….Can’t get to School? Not to worry – log in from home and join your live lesson. And so, in 2021, it seems that school need never stop: you can always get to class, and class can always get to you. Ladies and Gentlemen, a minute’s silence for the Snow Day.

But actually, does the Beast From the East not offer something quite important? We’ve seen from the joyous reaction to our own ‘Wellbeing Wednesday: Mind, Body & Soul’ just how energizing and enriching these ‘different’ days can be. There’s great value in mixing things up a little, and the impact of the occasional unexpected change – of doing things a little differently, of stepping away from the routine and of having unapologetic fun – is not to be underestimated. If it’s good for the mind, good for the body and good for the soul, then it’s good for the pupils, good for their families, and good for the School. The excitement of opening the curtains and seeing snow outside; the joy of tramping around in your wellies and playing in it; the glee at landing a freshly-made snowball on an unsuspecting sibling; and the thrill of playing, making, creating, running, throwing, shrieking and guffawing with your family as part of a formally-sanctioned yet somehow deliciously-illicit special day – that is absolutely time well spent.

So here’s a promise: the next time there’s snow – proper we-don’t-usually-get-this-in-the-South-West snow – we’ll have a snow day. Snowmen and snow angels will be compulsory, as will snowball fights. There’s learning in all of that – and there’s giggles and fun. And we’ll come back the next day a little brighter, a little gladder, a little smilier – and with a full tank of energy and vim.

Blended learning is here to stay: opening up your laptop and logging on is like opening your classroom door and walking in. By the same token, opportunities to go back through that door and step outside are precious. Long live the snow day.

 

12 February 2021
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