For those who were facing public examinations this summer, there will be a huge sense of loss of purpose, but it is really important that we help them to remember that exams are only a test of what you have learnt, and the value remains in all of the learning that has taken place.
There is also going to be a heavy sense of missing out on the final part of what has been a fourteen year journey in school, with all that time spent at Felsted for some. Of course, it remains possible that we will be back in the summer term at some point, but even if we can only operate remotely during this time, we will seek to maintain the very highest levels of pastoral care and support, alongside the remote learning. We will also look for a way to celebrate with this year's leavers at some point in the not too distant future, when they are able to shake hands and throw their arms around one another.
Meanwhile, I would like to thank everyone for their support during this time. The next stage, as we move to online learning, will not be plain sailing, but teachers and pupils have all been working hard to improve their skills to make this as effective as possible. For Years 10 and Lower 6th, this could be a critical period. There will be no delay to the exams in 2021, and keeping on top of your courses will be crucial for your success.
I would also like to thank the operational staff at the school, who have been working incredibly hard in the last few days. With so much uncertainty, it would be so easy for heads to drop, but rather than that, staff have worked twice as hard to make sure that the school continues to function, and thrive. Smiles are contagious, even when you don't feel like it, and I have seen a lot of smiles in the last few days, and a willingness to do that bit extra that means so much.
I would also like to thank the teaching staff, I spent last Friday morning going around the classrooms, to see online lessons, many with a very high level of sophistication, some where pupils were helping teachers to make the most of the technology, and a couple where there were Easter eggs already! What struck me in every classroom was that every teacher, and just about every pupil wanted to be in school. Even those who might not always give the impression of wanting to be here can recognise the value of what might be taken away from them in the coming weeks.
Finally, to all of the parents, family, friends and followers of Felsted, I will repeat part of the message that I gave to the teachers on Friday morning, because it applies to all of us at this time:
There is a lot of hard work ahead of us in order to keep things working, but this message is not about that. This message is about all of you. I have been blown away by the kindness that people have shown, the concern for one another, and the willingness to take on something different and something new, without any hesitation. We are going to need a lot more of those characteristics in the coming weeks, but remember that you really do make a difference when you say kind things to a colleague, you really do set an example when you smile, even when you feel unsure inside, and you really are making other people's lives better every day - and even more so at a time like this, when we all need that extra bit of help.
Look after yourselves. Fresh air, exercise, music, conversation, a new hobby - all of these things are good for the pupils, but also for all of us. Make time to do these things. Give your family time, keep in contact with friends, help others if you have a chance to do so. While this is perhaps the most challenging time many of us have faced, hopefully this little bit of Chinese wisdom will help us to see opportunity in the near future.