There was happiness and exhilaration among students, parents and staff when the government announced the reopening of schools on March 8th. After the Christmas break and two months of remote learning, the arrival of students on that day was a long overdue cherished moment for staff and students alike. A small number of students returned a few days later, due to fewer international flights, but this did not diminish the joy of their being back to face-to-face schooling. As a result of late arrivals, the quarantine period was extended, but the positive feelings arising from everyone’s return easily outweighed any inconvenience caused. We also had the added incentive from previous experience that once a ‘safe bubble’ was formed, school life could return to normal.
It is the time of year when some students are concerned and anxious about their exam results, as their future education can depend on the final grades they get. Many of them receive conditional offers from universities, which means that they have to get specific grades in order to access some of the courses they have chosen. This year, the situation has been aggravated by the level of uncertainty brought about by Covid-19, which has increased the level of anxiety and stress among the students. The examinations boards settled for a teacher grading system, based on evidence collected by teachers. Ready for this eventuality due to the experience of last year, teachers had already been diligently collecting work from students before the announcement was made. This new system puts a great deal of pressure on staff as they are fully aware of the students’ aspirations and their needs to progress in their education.
It is impossible to provide the type of education we offer at Brockwood without creating the right environment in which students can enjoy and deepen their learning experience. Living in a highly competitive and ruthless world, presently compounded by a devastating pandemic, students must feel safe and cared for so they can explore a type of learning not based on memory. For this to happen, it is paramount that staff establish good relationships with students, building the necessary trust to allow mutual observation of conditioning and to explore the possibility of freedom. This learning is primarily about our capacity to see things as they are in relationship, something simple to understand intellectually, but not so easy to put into practice. A love for learning and discovery is essential to lead a life free of monotony and repetition.