There is so much to write as we enter the Easter holidays. I think it is appropriate to start by thanking people who have helped to make the most difficult and unexpected end of term as easy as it I could have hoped.
Your children are simply wonderful (despite how difficult home schooling might have been!) and they have dealt with the disruption and upset that the past three weeks specifically have brought. I do believe that the media and the way in which it surrounds us relentlessly have not done our children any great favours, but they have shown genuine fortitude and I admire each of them for it. It will be so important as we move forward to not only keep educating them but to keep them stimulated and in touch socially and with all the extra bits of experience we possibly can. Children who are used to sitting connected to a phone, watching TV or playing computer games will possibly be easier to manage than children who are vital, engaged and hungry for experience. I know that none of us would wish to change our children for the former, and I know that if you challenge your children they will step up to the plate with you and you will greatly enjoy the experience.
I thank my colleagues. This has certainly been testing as they have maintained their professional standards and managed their own concerns and personal difficulties alongside each other whilst not letting the children register the difficulties. They have spent time “up-skilling,” so that they are ready to move forward if we face the same limitations at the start of next term as they have at the end of this. It will continue to be difficult and I know that they will again count on your support and patience should we be required to teach on line. We have spent the last week of term learning to use Microsoft TEAMS and we will hope to use this going forward in the event that we are unable to start at school next term. I recognise that some households are not serviced by good external IT infrastructure and that some households may have less computers than people needing to use them. To cope with this, we will be trying to offer alternative methods for education, but we are acutely aware that children don’t learn by simply sitting in front of a work sheet. It will be a voyage of discovery and one in which we will all count on each other for patience and understanding.
The Governors have been ever present in support of us and of me. Their level of experience in so many different fields and their passion for The Elms and understanding of what we do have been a constant support and I am very grateful to them. They continue to work incredibly hard behind the scenes with our Bursar to ensure that we move forward as positively as we can and to limit the impact of Covid-19 upon our school as we move forward.
My final thank you here goes to you the Parents. As I e-mailed you to close the school it was with a heavy heart as I knew that I was asking you to have your children at home at a time when your lives were being thrown into turmoil. I didn’t receive a single negative comment from any of you, only support and gratitude for which I was very grateful and passed on to my colleagues. The way in which you have taken to educating your children at home has again been phenomenal. It has not been easy (teaching your own children never is) but you have embraced it and given it your all. Your children will have grown through seeing the way in which you have approached such a difficult time. Please rest assured that what ever happens next term I won’t ask you to write reports!
So we look to the future.
You have received the letter from Mr Hone, the Chairman of Governors explaining that the school is looking at how it can work with you to make the fees easier to cope with at this point. My hope is that this will help one and all. Please though, don’t hesitate to contact me if you need to discuss anything further. I recognise that although this is a phenomenon that is impacting upon us all, each of us will have a unique story to tell at the end of it.
We must not let the strange end of term detract from the positive outcomes that our boys and girls have experienced in the run up to the end of term. Music and drama have been as exciting and innovative as ever, children have painted and drawn and been involved in the “100 Days at School,” challenge. We have had success at competitions in art and English. Children have entered the “500 Word,” competition and gained Scholarships to senior schools. IAPS competitions have seen graft and hard work leading to victory over our local rivals. We have welcomed new children and staff to school. All our children have grown in the classroom and shown that they have moved forward academically. As ever, it is too much to write here.
I look forward to keeping in touch with you as soon as I know anything that will affect next term and beyond, and I look forward to you keeping in touch to let me know what your children are up to.
Mr Chris Hattam