HM Blog Archive
Published on: Friday, March 5, 2021
Most Friday evenings are anticipated with their sense of temporary reprieve in the air. Today, however, I’m sure there is an even greater sense of relief because for teacher-parents across the country, their parole day has finally come and houses can return to being homes rather than schools!
You will have read a few times of my gratitude and appreciation of the challenges faced, but here is another sincere ‘Well done and thank you’ for your remote learning support – let’s hope it is the last needed for a good long time. Whilst there are still three weeks of term left, the collective interim report for the time since January 6 certainly has plenty of 1s for effort across it!
We have had all bar a tiny handful of Year 7 and 8 children come for their first lateral flow test in the last 36 hours and all has gone smoothly. The testing team of Siobhan Keeling and Lyn Burgess (our medical sister and our boarding matron) are a welcoming and highly-organised unit who have been on point every day since 5 January giving everyone a huge amount of confidence.
Teaching and support staff have all been tending to the relevant areas and so we are as ready here as we can be for the return on Monday. We’re really looking forward to the energy and enthusiasm generated by having us all together here on site. Enjoy your weekend, sort out those last preparations for the school run and, for those who then head back home, you can start imagining the relative peace and quiet!
Sunnier Times Ahead
Published on: Friday, February 26, 2021
A week ago we headed into the weekend hopeful that Monday would bring the announcement we all craved – and the good news duly came! Both professionally and personally, the provisional outline of what restrictions are hoped to be lifted at intended points ahead gave a real boost to everyone. A genuine chance to bring into a little more focus even the haziest images that may have been in your mind of being amongst friends, sitting in a theatre, on a beach, eating out and giving someone other than your immediate family a hug!
Also, for those more than ready to hang up your board rubber and retire from parent/teacher status, there was as close to a guarantee that next Friday will be the last day of having the house as a school for (hopefully) a good long while – and I know that has become cause for celebration!
We are not letting the sommelier know our selection to go with the starter, main and dessert choices just yet, though, and we still have a week of home-schooling ahead (sorry) but having the blackout curtains moved aside at the end of the tunnel have been a shot in the arm to run alongside the remarkable vaccine roll out.
My children pointed out that I might have my vaccine soon but I frowned because I am much younger than that – but they’re right, which shows just how quickly the programme is moving forward!
As well as this good news, the sun has shown its face and we should be in for a lovely weekend – is it too early to get the barbecue out and dust it off for when we can have people in our gardens?
Energy and Creativity and a Well-Earned Rest
Published on: Friday, February 12, 2021
The start of the Prep Newsletter needs very little from HEADlines this week. Partly because there is a short half term letter from me today, partly because I have written too much in recent weeks but mainly for the very positive reason that a picture is worth a 1000 words and there are many very descriptive pictures awaiting your perusal.
There has been sooo much brilliant activity from the children this week that, yet again, the Newsletter will give you a good flavour, but it is worth remembering the mass of engagement from all. In particular, the photos from #WellnessWednesday show you what amazing energy and creativity the children have – and a big thanks to Mr Watson for being the impetus and catalyst for a great day.
Today is not only the start of half term for us but it is Chinese New Year and depending on where you are in the world, I hope you have had or will be enjoying some fun celebrations with as large a gathering as you are allowed to under the circumstances with you.
We are starting the year of the Ox and I understand that amongst the characteristics of the Ox are diligence and perseverance as well as being strong, reliable, fair, conscientious and inspiring confidence in others. Those are qualities that would seem very apt at the moment.
Happy half term to you all and Xin nian kuai le.
What a Productive and Positive Week!
Published on: Friday, February 5, 2021
Looking back this week, not only has there been so much happening here (just look how diverse the Newsletter is) but we have seen some wider news and involvement in our school family beyond just King’s Hall. One quite far away, you should see in the Newsletter a little insight to the online link from two classes at King’s College, India and then, closer to home, we have also had some very positive feedback from the Houseparents at King’s College UK about how recent KHS leavers are getting on in Year 9. It’s very encouraging to read not only what they’re up to but that they are seen as positive contributors who are happy to add their talents and enthusiasm on many fronts as they continue to grow.
In the present, another Friday evening comes around and with it another important chance to stretch body and mind away from school routines over the weekend. We have opened up another jigsaw to be going on with in our house. Jigsaws, particularly the lovely Wentworth wooden ones of which we have several, are another beneficiary of sustained lockdowns. I don’t know if you ever have unspoken family battles to be the one who puts the last piece in place? If so, has it got to the stage where someone secretly takes a piece away at the start in order to guarantee themselves the pleasure!!??
Into the future, next week includes a Wellness Wednesday and there will be a good range of activities on Teams for the children to embrace and they are encouraged to complete at least one line of a bingo card which will be full of ideas. This time next week we will be heading into half term and, of course, still not able to head off as many might ordinarily. Some would leave seeking winter warmth, others the opposite and many just relaxing around home, with relatives or off on a UK minibreak. Click and collect is as exciting as it gets for us at the moment….. the scale of aspiration in the bucket list has had to be reviewed in the light of Covid!
Also next week, in a half term letter, I will offer further brief thoughts and updates about a few matters. Don’t expect it to be earth-shattering in regard to the Covid prognosis for school opening as we don’t expect a great deal more indication from the DfE until Monday 22 February and we all know that crystal balls don’t work when it comes to this Coronavirus!
In the last 8 months we have experienced and adapted to a phased return for younger children in June, the full return in September and then at the beginning of this term we were preparing for a full physical return but with some tighter Covid measures in play including a fully purposed lateral flow testing centre for staff and older children. All staff regularly on site are being tested twice a week and many others besides. Therefore, we feel confident that we will be able to adjust our response and deploy appropriate measures (including tests on return for Years 7 & 8 if required) to best respond to the situation both nationally and regionally. Whether in school or not, we have a robust and effective remote learning model in place to ensure we provide the best education possible under these circumstances.
Yet again, I have written too much – it must be the fact that I have more time to sit at my keyboard than usual ... have a good weekend.
Published on: Friday, January 29, 2021
As well as there being a great deal of discussion and news surrounding vaccines, vaccinations and variants this week, we also had a new possible return to school date tentatively pencilled in the diary.
I imagine your mind may have formed a similar block view of time as mine. I have been visualising that we have a fortnight until half term and then a fortnight after the break until Monday 8 March with then three weeks of this term left which may be here on site. It is very helpful to have some indication of the intentions, yet we have learned that it is important to be open-minded and flexible enough to realise that situations, and hence intentions, can alter pretty freely in response to the Covid scene. I think we have all agreed through lockdown experiences that school is better in school and so we do hope to be back on site as soon as we’re allowed.
One benefit of remote learning is that it is not geographically limited. A couple of our classes, one in Year 4 and the other in Year 7, will be having a live link up with King’s College, India. Year 4 are discussing ‘Looking After Ourselves’ and Year 7 will be considering land management under the title of ‘Waste Patch to Green Patch’.
In another virtual hook up with our overseas schools, on Wednesday I have a virtual meeting with the Head of King’s College, Doha, (KCD) to discuss various matters of mutual interest. KCD is now five years old and has over 600 children in it with the oldest now being in Year 8. Plans for the next site, which is just 10 minutes from the existing one, are now finalised with enabling works due to start in February and the school is scheduled to open in September 2022. It will be a spectacular, all new, purpose built site providing Prep and Senior school facilities for well over 1000 children from Year 3 to Year 13. The existing site is intended to accommodate Pre-Prep from Nursery to Year 2. As you can see, our Middle East interests are thriving. We continue to develop our profile and involvement in the region with further opportunities already in the pipeline.
Back here, as well as those two links with India in the diary, staff continue to engage with your children across a terrific range of activity. As you will have seen from the briefest glimpses in Prep assembly the children, in the main, remain a good source of energy. I hope to share a few more on Monday morning. Other diary entries to look forward to before half term include the Literature Festival and a Wellness Wednesday.
I remain very aware that parents’ efforts and support are a key component of this state of affairs and thank you most heartily, as ever. As part of our partnership and wish to understand how it is from the other end, we are in contact with some targeted families with children across the age ranges. Even if you’re not part of the fixed contacts, if you so wish do share any useful insights you feel would be constructive and helpful with Mr Watson. Naturally, any challenges can be different for different people at different levels and so, of course, we will probably not be able to solve every issue for everyone but any common themes we can address.
This has now become too long and so it is time to sign off and let you dive into the weekend.