November 2020 Blog
When I signed off on my October Blog we were just entering the nation’s second lockdown. I will admit that I was uncertain as to how challenging it would be to run a school during a lockdown with all the students coming in, but I was convinced that as a community we would undoubtedly rise to the challenge.
And the students and staff absolutely have!
The students have been excellent about keeping to the one-way system, staying in their Year group zones and always wearing their face masks as they move around the site. Staff have been excellent at keeping to all our measures in our risk assessment, which has minimised the staff who have had to self-isolate. This has made a significant difference with regards to the smooth running of the College and keeping the education as strong as it can possibly be. I also want to thank parents at this point, for their support and understanding as we have managed each case. Every little bit of support helps us manage the challenging situation that we are all in, that little bit better.
Staff have continued to work relentlessly on improving our ‘blended learning’ using the ‘itslearning’ platform so that if students must self-isolate, they have full access to the learning that is continuing in College. As teachers, we continue to work towards that seamless transition between accessing the learning from home and in the College.
Alongside this intense focus on managing the lockdown restrictions in the College and the quality of our blended learning, the other focus in November has been on ensuring a positive mock exam series for Year 11 in their core subjects. I would like to acknowledge the work of Mr Todd here, our exams officer, who masterminded a logistic conundrum to ensure that all the Year 11 exams were conducted with as much rigour as possible. Despite all the obstacles, we had over 94% attendance from Year 11 for these exams, with just thirteen resits required, due to a missed exam. The Year 11’s themselves, for the most part, displayed an exemplary attitude towards their exams and across the board, tried as hard as they could on their papers. Those who needed a little reminder about how important the exams are have resat their papers with a clearer understanding of how they hold their own futures in their hands through the effort and determination that they invest in now.
As I have said to many of them, and Mr Collins and I will focus on this in our next Year 11 assembly, the grades they have achieved in this exam series, will probably not be what they hope to achieve in the summer, but this is always why we do mock exams. This is the opportunity to make those valuable mistakes because it is from these mistakes that we always learn the most. So, going forward over the next few weeks, it is imperative that the students open their minds to the feedback they get and allow the learning from the mistakes to take place.
During the mock exams Mr Bezant, Head of Subject for English, brought an extraordinary piece of creative writing to me, completed by A Year 11 student. With the students and parents’ permission, I wish to share this piece of writing with you as it gives us a perceptive and intuitive insight into how our children view the ‘virus’ and the devastating impact it has on lives. It is a timely reminder for all of us, as the festive season approaches and the four-week lockdown ends, just how seriously we must continue to take all the government tier 2 restrictions so that we can keep all our loved ones as safe as possible.
“It was the end of….”
It was the end of a hard and unexpected battle. As rain fell, strong and consistent, we sat together in silence. I could imagine, just by their eyes, their thoughts. Most surprising to me, there was no tears. Shock and disbelief was concentrating the room, it was the first time I really and truly had no words.
I’ve always been an early riser, always awake before everyone else. But Saturday, it was different. My eyes first seemed to open, as if I knew what was happening. Looking back now I wish they stayed shut just a little longer. The worst sound to hear, the one everyone dreads, is their Mum crying and in that bleak and dismal minute that is all I was listening to. The clock said 5:25. It was early, Mum never woke this early. That’s when I knew it was coming.
11 days. 11 days since he tested positive. And now we sat in a bubble of fear and sadness, realising today – today was the day he was going to lose his battle. I felt as though sadness was consuming me, eating me alive bit by bit as I sat – still as a statue. Every other feeling was drowned by this raincloud and all I could feel was sadness.
I felt like I was being infected with it. Yet it couldn’t come out. No tears flowed, just bottles and bottles of them filling up inside me. Stuck. Earlier that morning, Mum had a call. My Grampy couldn’t fight anymore and was nearing a very close, very unexpected and very quiet end. The night before I had wished on a star, hoping the cruel and unmerciful virus could stop in its tracks but only now can I see why this didn’t work.
Covid-19. I can say, hand on my heart, I was naïve to it. No one really knows the monstrous nature of it until you watch it consume another. And sat on Mum’s bed on that rainy morning, I realised. It was a moment, and in that moment I felt it was eating me up too. The pain I felt was unbearable yet empty. As Mum left to say goodbye for the very last time before he went, I knew. I looked back on months and months of lockdown and realised just why…why we had to do that…
Although I felt empty and starved of emotion and the rain plummeted, I went on a walk. Each house, each flat, each garden, hold a family and as I looked and strolled past each house I came to terms with my emotions. No one prepares themselves, I didn’t want to punish myself for not knowing how to process it. I just knew that pain is something everyone feels at some point and now my point, my day where fear, sadness and disbelief pull you into their trap.
The air was fresh. I appreciated life in that moment. The movement of my lungs in and out, the step by step of my walk, the blink of my eye. Everything came into perspective. I knew what was coming as I opened the back gate into home again.
You can see in someone’s face. You can see the despair. I could almost feel the ice-cold of my Mum just by looking at her. “He’s gone now, Molly”. The words I were dreading; who knew in just ten days this would come? That’s when all those tears I bottled up, showered out of me. Like my heart, my emotions were just falling from me. I thought I felt empty before now, but really right now was when I felt I was completely gone. I didn’t even feel like me.
I laid in bed that night, completely frozen. In one day, I felt I cried for all my 15 years alive. As cliché as it sounds, I truly felt a hole in my heart. But reflecting now I realise that hole is binded with love and that love is binded with memories. When people say ‘they’ll always be in your heart’ they really do mean it.
By Molly P.