Protecting our Children’s Education

Protecting our children


“A week is a long time in politics.” [Harold Wilson]

It is only seven days ago that we were celebrating not having to see things with 2020 vision but since then the outlook for 2021 has become increasingly foggy and our de-mister has been in overdrive just to keep our sights clear. It has been quite an effort and I would like to thank my colleagues for adapting so quickly to get things in place for the children so effectively.

If ever a reminder was needed as to why we make such an effort then it jolted me yesterday. As I was struggling to make sense of the government’s instructions for lateral-flow-test procedures, my ears were drawn to some marching footsteps on the gravel path outside my office. Going past my window was a crocodile-line of nursery children on their way to lunch and, just as the front two came into view, one little boy let out a giggle of such unadulterated joy, I could not help smiling too. He was in his own world of imagination, marching to the beat of his nursery teacher and simply laughing at whatever was in his head.

And in that instant I could see that for all the frustrations we may be feeling as adults, the younger children have other things to think about, and so they should. For them the outside world can wait; their thoughts should be imaginative and creative as this is how they learn to make sense of life. It is easy to forget this sometimes and, instead, project our concerns on to children before they have the mental capacity to fully understand. There comes a point of course when children must be exposed to the realities of a wider, sometimes unforgiving world but, where we can, it is our duty to protect them in all senses of the word.

So that is what this week has been about: protection. Not just protection in a physical sense, though that is paramount of course, but more that we are protecting the children’s educational development by working so hard to ensure it continues, whether they are in school or at home.

We are trying to maintain as much of the normal timetable as possible and the children have benefited already from the live interactive input. With the previous lockdown experience to draw upon, the transition has been comparatively smooth and any creases are quickly being ironed out. There are compromises to aspects of the extra-curricular life of course – it is not easy to replicate team sports at home for instance and I do not encourage any pupil to use their mum or dad for rugby tackling practice – but we are posting many ideas on to Padlet to encourage the children to think beyond just the academic side of life.

That said, we are acutely aware of the need for screen-time balance as well as the imposition on adults or broadband at home. You may have noticed how drained the children are at the end of the day and that is because working remotely like this is more intense than a normal school day. In this sense, the screens are a necessary evil and we urge regular breaks – simply getting up and wandering around – to keep the mind and eyes fresh. This is our hardest challenge – we want the children involved but we also need them to work independently and away from the screens at times. We will keep working on it but if you feel the balance is not right for your child, please do not hesitate to contact their tutor or form teacher.

Please may I draw attention to the Land’s End to John O’Groats Challenge, which was launched for the Houses this week by Mrs Murray and Mr Ghammache. Details are on Padlet but, in essence, this is a virtual race to see which House can get from Land’s End to John O’Groats the quickest. It is 970km which works out to requiring about 15km from each person if everyone does their bit. And by that, I mean walking, running, cycling, swimming even (if one can find a pool), and recording the distance covered by taking a screenshot and then sending it to Mr Ghammache via Teams. Pupils can contribute as many times as they like – the idea is simply to be involved.  

One final request from me which is an important one – even though most of you are now at home, please may you continue to inform the medical centre ( if a pupil is isolating for a covid—related reason. It is important we keep track of all situations.

You will have anticipated that the Saturday morning activities programme will not be running, again related to our awareness of encouraging the children to take a break from their screens. It also gives us a chance to reflect on the first few days and make any necessary tweaks.

Have a good weekend everyone!


Gareth Jones