This week, I have been reflecting on the process of change and transformation. It has been brilliant to welcome back pupils from Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. Hearing them share their news as they arrived in school on Monday was refreshing – after all the concerns about how our youngest pupils would react to their new normal, I was reassured immediately when the first comment I heard related to a wobbly tooth. This prompted a second pupil to comment on her newly acquired adult teeth, and – just like that – order was restored. Walking down a corridor later the same day, I faced a gauntlet of giggling Year 2 key-worker children. Their topic of conversation was as old as the hills: is playdough edible? Phew. Some things have not changed at all.
It has been a relief to us all to see how quickly girls throughout the school have adapted to these changing times, and how readily they have accepted their altered circumstances. And this applies to us all. On Wednesday, I taught an English lesson to Year 6 from a doorway – there were pupils in a room to my left, pupils in a room to my right, and another joining remotely via Google Meet. This Janus-like approach was a first for me, but it worked. Meanwhile, Leigh Ward, our Director of Finance and Operations has morphed into a playground monitor (amongst many other things, like temperature-checker, PPE-procurer, and receptionist) and has become a big hit with the pupils, one of whom described him this week as “a very funny man” who is great to have around. I couldn’t agree more.
Thanks to the monumental efforts from so many members of the Brighton Girls team, we now know what is required to operate a school with social distancing measures in place. We know what is possible (virtually, anything!) and we know that we can adapt.
Over the last few months, Brighton Girls has transformed itself from a physical school into a virtual school, and we are now into a new phase that will see us change into something else again. As I keep saying to my six-year-old son (who also returned to school this week and planted a runner-bean seed, which he desperately wants to see emerging from the soil) we will need to be patient. Our planning for Autumn requires us to consider how we will fuse both virtual and physical models to achieve maximum flexibility for pupils and staff, and this will take time.
But, amongst all the uncertainty, one thing is not in doubt: we will emerge from our Covid chrysalis stronger, more dynamic, more resilient, and with a bright future ahead.