By Claire Bell
23 Apr 2020
It’s a glorious Friday afternoon and I type this sat in my study trying to decide when exactly wine o’clock might justifiably be. ‘First world problems’ as they say. I also have a huge sense of gratitude, to be serious for a moment, because I’m fortunate, with the medical care we receive on Singapore and the constant non-scaremongering news updates, to have indoor and outdoor space, to have a well-stocked fridge (and plenty of toilet roll), countless TV channels to choose from, exercise equipment to use and much more to alleviate the potential tedium of our needed Circuit Breaker. This is not the case for a great many of our fellow citizens across the world. It irritates me when I hear people suggesting that this horrendous virus is a great leveller; it just isn’t! It is and, for quite some time, will continue to affect the most vulnerable (emotionally, physically, mentally and socio-economically) in our society far more than the rest of us. There is much being done by volunteers and the charity sector to support those in most need during this awful period, where their needs are exacerbated exponentially. It is not my intention to be a merchant of doom and gloom, but simply to make the point that I am feeling very thankful today and also thinking what more can we do now and in the future, especially as the Principal of a school that prides itself on a sense of ‘community’.
One thing we have done this week, is to ensure that all of our pupils have a sense of positive wellbeing, a sense that although we are not in school physically with them, we are still thinking of them and they still have their learning contact time with us. Some of our teaching staff are parents, some are at home completely alone but, we all have an understanding of the frustration parents must be suffering whilst trying to help with the home schooling of their children. Having children of differing ages, abilities and needs at home, not being able to take them to a swimming pool or out for a family day just for a break must be difficult. As a staff, we recognise that. We recognise that parents need our support in this learning journey too.
Our priority must be our own young people and their families and so we will continue to set work, provide feedback where possible, check on the welfare of pupils and colleagues in attempt to keep them safe and well. If you have any other suggestions how else we can support The Perse community, then please get in touch.
On the subject of my colleagues, they’re a very innovative and, indeed, sociable bunch. All staff talk regularly to ensure we are all on the same page and that we are supporting each other – it can be lonely being a teacher at home! It’s great to see that team spirit, the camaraderie, we see each day in school being sustained ‘remotely’.
What I am also sensing (in fact what there is considerable evidence for), from an educational perspective is that our young people are showing new levels of creativity, independence and self-management that they themselves, their parents and perhaps even their teachers weren’t fully appreciative of. Can we explore and exploit this more in the future? awarding grades during the current crisis may prove a catalyst for overdue change.
So, I wonder how you see the ‘new normal, the recovery phase, our rebirth, the resurrection, call it what you may? There is much to contend with in the meantime but it would be such a wasted opportunity, surely, just to go back to doing things the way we’ve always done and expect anything to be different. I’ll finish this particular topic of reflection with a quote from French philosopher and writer, Albert Camus and one of my favourites; ‘In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.’