Pocklington School

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Headmaster's Blog: The "Silver linings" of our current circumstances

Two boys and a girl sat at a desk, working in a classroom at Pocklington School

I was fortunate enough to see the “Blue Moon” on the 31st October over the Wolds; an incredible sight and so-called because it is the second full moon in a single month’s cycle. I then came across a recent report in the media of an astronomy student, Joel Miller, who managed to film astonishing video footage of planet Mars rotating in space. He noted that the coronavirus pandemic had afforded him opportunities to stargaze like never before. There was little else for him to do and it met very well with government social distancing guidelines! There are some silver linings to our current situation.

The second national lockdown was met with dismay in many parts of the country. Whilst it may well be necessary from a public health perspective, the negative impact on the economy, social lives, mental health and a myriad of other aspects of daily life is considerable. The impact on all young people is, in my view, even more severe. It is therefore a further silver lining that the government has clearly stated that schools should remain open at this time and in the future. The importance of school cannot be overstated and the deeper understanding of this amongst parents and pupils across the nation is perhaps another unintended consequence of the pandemic and lockdown. At a time when everyone craves contact and community, school provides exactly that, all within a safe, secure and supportive environment.

Whilst the past few weeks in all schools have been challenging, this has been balanced by a feeling of good fortune that pupils are able to come in as per normal and equal gratitude from teachers who are afforded the chance to come to work, even during this most recent period of national lockdown.

Indeed another silver lining to our current circumstances is an increased understanding of just how important going to work really is. As someone who has not always worked in schools, I must confess to feeling sad and concerned at the thought of countless offices and supporting industries around the country left empty and at least temporarily abandoned. Certainly, for the youngest employees in any organisation, settling physically into an office, factory or other environment is vital in building relationships with colleagues, learning how an organisation works and of course developing skills through training and career development programmes. In theory, all this is possible on Zoom, but in my view much, much harder and infinitely less rewarding for all parties.

We have also come to further realise the importance of team and group activity. One can only enjoy solo pursuits for so long! School closure aside, few things have hit children harder than the cessation of out of school clubs and activities. Parents will, in some cases, structure their week around such activities and they give children the chance to develop their broader skills and meet up with peers in an environment that is different to the school classroom or playground. Faced with a global health pandemic, these things are easily dismissed however they are often the small things that light up a child’s, and by extension, a parent’s week.

We run the risk of taking many of these things for granted; it should not take a global pandemic to make us realise their importance in our lives. I hope this deeper understanding is the silver lining that outlives the current crisis.