YESTERDAY (March 19th) in the Dining Hall, one of the Year 11 students came up to me and with a wry smile casually enquired, “Busy week, Mrs Thomas?” Such is the spirit and energy of our community.

We will remain open for the business of education, albeit in a different format: we may be distant, but the learning will continue. Students and teachers are already embracing the challenge wholeheartedly; we know there will be glitches along the way but the whole community is pulling together and supporting each other magnificently. As well as preparing online materials for lessons next week, we are putting together a plethora of enrichment suggestions suitable for all ages.

For many of our students, both here and overseas, distance learning has already begun. Yesterday, our Academic Director of King’s Ely International shared this with the team: “Walking down the corridor this morning at 9.20am there are few students, but classrooms are buzzing. On my left an ESOL lesson is in full flow with a pupil from Macau at a desk working with the teacher who is also speaking to students from China and Latvia online. Further along, I can hear two Russian students engaging in a biology lesson while at home in Moscow. That just leaves me to teach the greenhouse effect this afternoon to my students in Germany, China, Kazakhstan and Russia. We are keeping our distance, there is some sense of isolation, but learning has never been more together.”

For now, and out of necessity, our lives are changing and to an extent our priorities are too. We often complain that we are too busy and that we don’t have time for long conversations with families or to explore new hobbies, develop new skills; now we may well have that time. Yesterday we talked to the students about what would their response be if in the future they were asked ‘what did you do during the school closures of 2020.’ We want them all to be able to answer that in a positive way.

As we approach Easter, I would like to leave you with a quote from the Dalai Llama: “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive. If you want others to be happy, practise compassion. If you want to be happy, practise compassion.” Or as Ellen DeGeneres put it: “I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you’d want to be treated and helping those in need. I also believe in Dance.” Wise words indeed!

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