I have recently been reminded of a quote from Vladimir Lenin: “There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen”. This is certainly true of these past few weeks in schools.
Schools have come under much scrutiny and attention as, after weeks of part-closure, online learning, key worker provision and rapid change management, their doors have begun to open this half-term in England. We are delighted to welcome pupils back to Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 this week at Pocklington and look forward to seeing our Year 10 and 12 pupils later this half of term in some capacity.
Over the last ten weeks we have witnessed turbulent, humbling and touching times. The week when I wrote to our community informing them that our schools would physically close to the vast majority of students was certainly emotionally turbulent. Our whole community’s response to the pandemic has been humbling. I include in this our teachers, support staff, parents and pupils. They have come together in a manner that has made us all proud. We are grateful to them all for their considerable efforts. Letters from parents, chance meetings in local shops and outside spaces along with numerous moments in online lessons with our fantastically resilient students all over the county and the world have been touching.
Instead of dwelling on the past, I thought it better to look to the future. Whatever lies over the horizon, I am confident and hopeful for our future.
I am confident that our pupils’ independence will be bolstered by this period of change. Whilst we are in daily contact with them all, they are having to employ their own judgement and initiative on a more frequent basis than ever before. This will do them good in the long run.
The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week is worrying and deeply upsetting. However, the global outrage and response prompted by these harrowing events though gives me hope and confidence that, even in these most challenging of times, humanity recognises right from wrong and is not prepared to let such injustices stand and go on. I hope and pray that the BlackLivesMatter movement continues to gain momentum and brings about manifest change.
I am confident that our whole community has developed their digital skills at a pace rarely seen before. Yes, screen time comes with its downsides, but imagine if we had found ourselves in this position ten years ago.
I am confident that how we value the world around us will, in many ways, change for the better. Whilst I have enjoyed the precious time spent with my children and family I am also eager that their horizons are not limited. And so I cannot wait for the opportunity to travel safely and wonder at the world around us again.
I am confident that schools and all those who work in them will be even more valued than before. As Zoom and Microsoft Teams meetings alike have given our parents a window onto the world of the classroom, so the feedback we have received from our community reflects how thankful they are for our ongoing support of their children. I am confident this understanding of what schools do and the important roles they play in shaping future generations will lead to even greater future support.
And finally, I am confident that schools will put in place the required strategies to cope with whatever challenges lie ahead. Since our foundation in 1514, this has been one of the hallmarks of Pocklington School. These historic innovations have included the establishment of a Prep School, and the adoption of new curriculum pathways this century. We will continue to consider and adopt similarly innovative approaches in the 21st century.
And so despite the swirling anxiety and uncertainty I am confident in adopting an optimistic approach as we try to understand and navigate what lies ahead.