The new academic year is already well over a month old – time has certainly flown by. Pupils of all ages have settled down to their work with admirable focus and intensity. Sport and music are once again a crucial part of our daily programmes. Important projects for the year, such as oracy and pupil independence, have been launched and have begun to help arm pupils with more tools to ensure their success in learning. Year 13 pupils are working hard on finalising their applications to some of the world’s leading universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Cornell, Duke and, in a first for the school, Peking. Their ambition is matched and supported by the school, and I know parents will join me in wishing all our university applicants well over the next few months.
These may all be part and parcel of a conventional school year, of course, but it doesn’t take me to point out that the past nine months have been anything but ordinary. The impact of the coronavirus is still apparent: parents have not been able to come on to the school grounds since January, which for a school which sets such store by its open and positive relationships with parents, has been particularly hard for our community. In addition, the restrictions on international travel delayed the arrival of several of our new teachers. I am pleased, therefore, to be able to share some good news. On the school’s reopening after the national holiday on 8th October, we will once again be admitting parents to the school for briefings and parent meetings, albeit initially still in limited numbers. The even better news is that almost all our new teachers will be in class from that date. We have two – Mr Sturiale in music and Mr Johnson in geography – already freed from quarantine, and a further six either in quarantine or just emerging from it. We have worked very hard to have our full complement of teaching staff in place, and the presence of all these new teachers takes us another step closer to achieving our collective goal of restoring the school to its pre-Covid condition.
In a final irony, there is a certain symmetry to the way this special period is drawing to a close. All schools in China closed just after the Spring Festival holiday, and next week sees the break for the Mid-Autumn Festival and National holiday. As it was back in January, the school heads into a holiday with a series of celebrations of local Chinese culture and tradition, although in a far less uncertain atmosphere than in those distant days. Pupils and staff will join in three days of events involving language, history, costume and stories linked by the theme of Mid-Autumn, details of which can be found below.
There is still uncertainty across the world, of course. I do not pretend that there may not be setbacks in the coming months as the world adjusts to living with the coronavirus, but as I said at the start of this piece, I think we need to get back to a ‘business as usual’ mentality as soon as we can. Schools which provide a safe and secure learning environment are good indicators of any high functioning society. As we mark another series of milestones in overcoming the effects of the virus, is a fitting we use this holiday period to reflect on the journey we have been on together and look forward to a bright, confident future.
I wish all our families a peaceful, restful holiday.