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Senior Headmaster's Blog: Out of challenge comes opportunity

This has been an end of term like no other that I have experienced, and we have faced a situation that none of us could really have anticipated.  Of course, there is a slightly empty feeling, to see the school without everybody (apart from the small number of international boarders still being looked after in Follyfield) as the sun shines on what should be a day of celebration.  Reading through all the many achievements that would have been celebrated in 'Lists' reminds me of how many remarkable things have been achieved during this term, not to mention many others that have been celebrated in the weekly newsletters throughout the term, and via social media as well.  We will continue to publish stories and achievements, and hope that you will continue to send us pictures and clips of what you are doing, and how you are managing during this time.

Please click here to read the Spring Term Lists

When it was first announced, to general surprise, that there would be no exams this summer, there was an initial sense of elation for some students (yes, we know who you are!), but actually this took away a very real sense of purpose for the year groups directly affected.  It is a key part of our role, whether as parents or teachers, to support these students as they prepare for the next stage of their careers, whether at sixth form, university, or out into the workplace, and help to provide a focus and purpose that could be missing.  It is also really important to remember that an exam in itself has no value, and is just a crude measurement of what you have done, while the real value lies in the learning that has been experienced to get you ready for the test.  None of you has lost that learning, and whatever you are going on to do now, you must continue to learn all your life, always question, challenge yourself, and seek to improve just a bit each and every day.
Clearly we continue to face great uncertainty, and we are planning hard to be ready to deliver remote learning for as long as it takes next term.  In order to do this, we are rewriting the curriculum in light of the experiences of this week. For the Upper Sixth, there will be a limited programme looking ahead to life at university or in work.  For Year 11, we will be moving on to an introductory course for sixth form study. For Year 9, we will be adapting the curriculum to deliver GCSE option subjects. Year 10 and Lower 6th face the additional challenge of being part way through courses, and so we will be attempting to maintain momentum in these two years towards those courses.  More information will be shared that is specific to each year group, but we intend to be more flexible in the timing, and to reduce some of the workload where appropriate to ensure maximum progress, but reduction in some of the pressure.

In the coming three weeks, it is important to remain purposeful. Go back over your online learning from this week, if you need to do so (teachers will still be available and responding online).  Read books, take exercise, help around the house, play music, help others - there is much that can be done that will be personally rewarding, and socially beneficial as well.  However, you must remember that the guidance from the government is designed to keep the whole community safe, and keep washing hands, maintain social distance, and where appropriate isolate yourself from others.
Out of challenge comes opportunity.  Remember what Isaac Newton achieved when he was in isolation from the Bubonic Plague - click here to read.  While I don’t necessarily expect quite that level of discovery from everyone, we are here to support you to make progress in your learning, and we will come through this challenge even stronger than we were when we started.
Have a very good Easter holiday, and Garde Ta Foy - keep your faith.