As a boy, I remember my grandparents talking about the war years. As they did so, they drifted into a place and time which, although they were clearly describing their experiences to me, was theirs alone. A place that I would never be able to access or witness, no matter how vivid their accounts were.
As I sit here today, in a city which is oddly quiet and within a world which is living through what one has seen in the past only in Science Fiction films, I sense that we will all look back at these times in a similar way.
The power of the human spirit which has already been displayed is there for all to see. Whether within our School or our communities at large, we have witnessed and will continue to experience what is good about the human character and this is so important for us all, but in particular for the children in our care; both as educationalists and parents.
All of us within the School have been amazed and encouraged, touched and impressed, by the level headed, positive and proactive way in which the pupils have approached this phase of their young lives. This is true of all age groups and they are shining examples of the goodness alluded to earlier and we should all follow their lead.
Whether it is the touching worry doll that the younger children presented to Mrs Watt this week, or the mature and helpful suggestions made by the Upper School pupils’ yesterday morning in relation to how best we can stay connected, the boys and girls have been there for one another and for their teachers. I commend them all for this.
The Prime Minister spoke yesterday about the possibility of the schools across the nation being physically closed for 12 weeks. This was unimaginable when the New Year dawned in January and yet here we are today looking ahead to teaching and engagement being delivered in new ways. There will undoubtedly be trips and falls along the way as we all begin to adjust to new systems and processes, but I can assure you that the School and the staff within it will be there with you all, every step of the way.
The road ahead is one which will require each member of the Eaton Square family to support each other and to act in a way which will allow us all to flourish. As we have done over the past few days, we will continue to operate as a School, teaching and guiding your lovely children, even though we will not physically be in the same space with them. All pupils have been given their timetables for the remainder of the Term and for when we return in April. They know what to do.
As parents I would ask that you oversee their learning as much as you are able and, above all else, ensure that they have a balance between the online activities they will receive from us and time away from the screen. Encourage interaction and activity within the home, patience and kindness towards one another, together with the time to reflect. These are times which none of us have ever experienced and they will need to talk about their feelings, their concerns and worries; allow them to do so. If there are things which you feel the Class Teachers or Tutors may be better suited to discussing, do liaise with our team in order that this may be able to happen; certainly share how the children are feeling in order that we are aware too.
As a staff body we are all entirely committed to providing your children with a first rate education in academic terms but also in relation to the other areas of the curriculum. We will have to be inventive, to think outside the box, and to work collaboratively with you and them. Do understand that when we are in session we are all focussing on this and have been preparing for this for some time now, predicting where we would be. Our SLTs are fully briefed and ready to go, and the Heads of all of the sections are in regular contact with each other, with me and with the Chairman. We are all confident that we will get through this period of history as stronger, wiser, more adaptable and humble people than before we entered it.
I cannot thank enough the many, many parents who have written in to the School to say ‘Thank you’ for all that has been done to maintain a semblance of normality, of routine, of care and of support for our children. It means a great deal to my teams to have these communications and to know that we are all in this situation together and that, as one, we will navigate our way through these most challenging of times.
Reflecting on those times when sitting at the feet of my grandparents, the oft repeated message they were giving were of the displays of courage, of fortitude, of perseverance, of togetherness and teamwork, of support and love for each other which enabled them to emerge from the at times dark and fearful places to a time of happiness and joy.
At the moment we are entering into unknown and worrying period but, I have every confidence, that we will emerge from it as a closer, tighter, stronger and more adaptable family than ever before. We must trust in each other to do so and help those within our community who need to be lifted and guided along the way.
I thank you all for your continued support. I thank the amazing staff team who will be fundamental to this process and above all else, I thank our wonderful children who bring joy to our lives each day and who will continue to do so as we move into the future.
With my best wishes,
Sebastian Hepher, Principal