After four months of working remotely, we are now preparing to welcome our students back into school. It feels like a long time coming. When we first went into lockdown, we thought it might be just for a few weeks – who knew what was to come? There is a whole new language which has emerged during that time; furlough, new normal, bubble, social distancing, self isolation – all words and phrases not commonly used until earlier this year. In my usual optimistic fashion, I see so many benefits of returning to school. I am delighted to finally welcome our new Year 7 students, excited to see the cohorts of 2018 and 2019 – at the risk of sounding like an old granny, I am sure they will have grown in all that time they have been away!
There will be changes at school for sure, these are outlined in the letter sent out this week and attached in the newsletter for your reference. The change isn’t permanent though, it is a temporary measure to ensure we can have face to face contact; a necessary compromise to allow us to be together again. When we are able to, we will also return to our distinctive educational approach. Vertical tutoring will be back, so will our enrichment programme and community dining. In the meantime, we are doing these things in a different, more creative and sometimes more distant way so that we continue to enable our community to succeed and thrive.
You will see some examples in this newsletter of the creative and innovative ways our students have worked during lockdown. It has been a priviledge to see how they responded to the remote learning and any lockdown challenges we have presented to them. It will be great to know that they can draw on the STRIPE skills they have been using at home, when we are back in September.
I sent this quote, by William Arthur Ward, to the staff a little while ago: “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” and it really captures how I feel about returning to school.
What we need to do now is reset the sail – let us look at what is possible and how we can achieve it. Staff, students and their parents have worked in creative and different ways over the last 4 months, it would be great if we can continue with the best elements of this as we return. We can’t operate how we did back in March but that won’t last forever. As we reset, there will be things we keep and things we will be glad to see the back of!
So, let’s see how can we work together to support each other to make this situation a success.
I am really proud of the way in which the students have coped with remote learning. It has been a delight to see the photos and videos of what they have acheived. I am also incredibly grateful to the staff for the commitment to making remote learning work and for supporting students whilst facing their own challenges. We have built a strong JTFS community over the last two years and that strength will enable us to return successfully.
I hope you have a good summer. Stay safe and I am really looking forward to seeing you all again in September.