Keep calm and stay positive; good things will happen

Well, according to Jules Verne, if you are Phineas Fogg, you can go around the world in 80 days.

Since Monday 8 March (the day schools reopened in person), I am very delighted to confirm that the furthest I have travelled is to Twyford to the West, Slough to the East, Little Marlow to the North and… Easthampstead Park crematorium to the South, some 18 miles away, and only that was essential so we could pay our last respects for my father-in-law, John Weston Austin, who passed away.

So in the great scale of universal things, I’ve gone nowhere, nada, nothing. End of.

Alternatively, the entire multi-layered dimensions of everything-and-then-some has as a consequence gone around the Universe and landed on my door step. Crumbs, what with Tim Berners Lee’s toy and a modern Chromebook, there really are no limits on range of travel or complexity of activity and engagement.

Using far too much hyperbole James. Moi? Hyperbole? Mais non!

March 8 – Day 1 – Boys get off the morning bus in (after 7 weeks of successful Food Tech), “Sir when does the Food Tech studio open?” So that’s challenge in itself. Expect September ’21 or January ’22, but we’ll get there!

March 15 – News gets around the school that former pupils have been causing ‘posh graffiti’ everywhere. What’s not to like?

In the photo above, taken earlier this May with Headboy Charlie and Deputy Matthew, Dawa Balogun stands proudly alongside his #gottabeageniusgottabeextraodinary catchphrase, by which he explained how it was he managed to get to meet the Prime Minister , Bori Johnson back in October.

March 23 March saw the first National Day of Reflection which drew us all together on the anniversary of our first #lockdown, providing the opportunity for all to support those who are grieving and what an upswell of support there was, not maudling but eal and heartfelt.

That day of reflection was replaced by many days of concern, for the cargo ship Ever Given ended up blocking the Suez canal bringing world trade to a halt it was feared. In reality, human ingenuity and much tugboat muscle too assisted in refloating and moving on that trade.

Dame Rachel de Souza started dared to ask our children the questions she felt we might have been ignoring for the past 12 months, there being something more immediate to worry about. I worked hard to ensure all of our children saw the invite to the Big Ask, and with any luck we smashed her expectations for children’s involvement. Have a listen yourself and see what you think?

I chose to sell the idea to the secondary pupils by coinciding The Big Ask with Arundhati Roy’s famous quotation on the ‘voiceless’:

With the time to read, research and reflect, I’ve felt I’ve been as much on a Desert Island as Radio 4’s guests, though instead of being alone, I’m check by jowl with everyone else in the same position. And in my stasis, it’s been a little easier to tune in to the growing troubles in the wellbeing of those, both young and adult with whom I work. Being born into education and educated in my own school that I now lead, I am so lucky not to feel trapped or unfulfilled. So many other have not been caught in their safe place, rather more seemingly caught like a daddy longlegs in the molten wax of a guttering candle, in the spotlight, transfixed by their forced inertia and in danger of burning bright.

In many ways, because we’ve all been transfixed, the value of friendship and the need to show strength and courage for others has had no option other than to overflow. I get a sense of what the blitz spirit must have been like, being there for everyone because we had no choice, and because kindness and strength has become habitual to share, as we wrap up Year 11’s time with us and watch the years below career down the staircases do clear their lockers at the end of this challenging half of term, the smiles are indeed everywhere. I’ll close if I may, with Olympian and world champion Mark Richardson’s message used last autumn and repeated today with year 11 – #Radiatethesunshine, collaboration is the key.

About jameswilding

Academic Principal Claires Court Schools Long term member & advocate of the Independent Schools Association
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