As a school, we have been very pleased at how the start to the year has gone. We have managed to have over 1,050 pupils in school, including 500 boarders, and been back in classrooms, doing activities, out on the sports fields, and getting back to some sort of social normality.
However, as we have seen in parts of the country, and as we are hearing on the news, now is not the time to relax too much, and it is essential that we continue to follow the measures in place in order to ensure that the school can run effectively. While it is invidious to single out departments, I do think that those working in catering and cleaning are doing a quite remarkable job, and deserve all of our thanks.
We will be fully reviewing our current approach at the beginning of next week, with a view to putting any further changes in place from Monday 28th September.
One key area where we have already seen that things are challenging is when a student (or member of staff) is symptomatic, and has to access a test. The national testing system is proving frustratingly difficult to access so in order to help with this, the school has accessed swab test kits that can now be done through our own medical centre on the day for any Felsted pupil who is symptomatic. While it will still take 2-3 days to get a result, this should significantly speed up the process. More details about this provision can be accessed here and we are planning to be able to have our testing in place by Monday 21st September. We are very grateful to Dr Sibel Peck, and Private GP Services, who have been instrumental in making this possible for Felsted.
Meanwhile, the term and year are now well underway, and as I said above, it has been very pleasing to see how well the majority of our students have started. Without doubt, many are relieved to be back at school, and this positive mindset (plus some glorious September weather) has helped people to cope with the differences in routine, and the challenges of school with Covid measures in place. For new starters, this approach has made life that bit harder, and I continue to encourage all of our pupils to be actively welcoming, to seek to make new friends, and find out more about people that they don't know. A closed mindset in friendship is as limiting as a fixed mindset in the classroom! Felsted's diversity (and increasing diversity) is one of its many strengths, and it is so important for all of our students that they are prepared for a future as a truly global citizen.
If you are new to the school, you do not have to be in a rush to make fixed friendships, as it can take time to find people with common interests. Remember that you can be friendly to all, without having to be friends with everyone, and that way you give yourself that bit more time to settle in. Find things that you enjoy doing, and get involved, and if you are finding it difficult, remember that so is everyone else. Be prepared to talk to someone about it, and you will find that they are probably sharing some of your nerves. I have been in schools for more years than I care to mention, and I still get that slightly anxious feeling at the end of each August!
It has been an excellent first fortnight, and thank you to all the staff for the work that you are putting in, to the parents who have had faith in the school, and most of all to all of the pupils who make Felsted what it is.