Head’s Round Up: Friday 24 April 2020
It seems entirely normal to be sitting at my desk writing my Friday round up of school news and yet the situation we are in is far from normal. Despite the global crisis which has unfolded over recent weeks and months, however, the return to school this week and the start of the new term have been positive and, in fact, in many ways, exciting.
The provision of remote learning has not been a service that many schools internationally have had to consider until now. There is no denying that it was a challenge to respond quickly and effectively to the immediate need which became apparent so suddenly just before the end of last term. Since then, though, teachers are embracing that challenge and have responded and continue to respond daily with creativity and innovation. We have had a very positive response from the girls who, I think, were relieved to ‘come back’ to school, which represents some normality and provides some much-needed routine. I am so proud of the way in which the whole Prior’s Field community has reacted to this unprecedented situation and would like to thank publicly all my staff as they have been working so hard since the initial lockdown was put in place.
As you know, school is continuing virtually with, as one member of staff marvelled, lessons being taught to girls in locations as diverse as Richmond and Africa. It also remains physically open for some children of key workers and vulnerable children. I am pleased that there will be some people in school to see the Rose Garden, currently full of blossom and the buzz of happy bees.
As one of the few members of staff actually working from school, I find myself doing a myriad of jobs normally left to others: for example, answering telephone, scanning documents, photocopying. I was rather proud of myself today when I sent some art materials to a pupil in Paris, which felt rather like sending coals to Newcastle. If any girl needs to come in to collect any items from school, you are very welcome to contact me to arrange for you to pick up what you need.
Five Food and Nutrition students from the Fourth Form, Daisy M, Madeline C, Lilia M, Evie T and Iris W, have completed their Basic Food Hygiene Certificates, with others to follow in their footsteps. This course is an on-line course usually taken by adults working in the Food industry, so completing it is a real achievement. Well done, girls!
Mr Butler has decided to extend the Huxley Essay Competition deadline to next Friday 1 May. Just to remind you, the theme is A Brave New World – current circumstances will provide huge possibilities with that theme! The rules are on Frog. Contact Mr Butler if you have any queries. I would really encourage girls to have a go at this. Sit in the sunshine this weekend, pen in hand, and let those creative juices flow.
Continuing the writing theme, congratulations to Sylvie D for the character piece she wrote for Creative Writing Club and with which Mr Butler was really impressed. Congratulations too to Anya C who has been producing a weekly newspaper for her local community, complete with recipes, puzzles and articles. Well done, Anya, what a fantastic idea and brilliantly executed. Next week, Club of the Week is Cooking Club so look out for Miss Teasdale’s daily cooking challenges.
A reminder about Mrs Derrick’s Classical Greek course which will be launched shortly. As the foundation language of western literature and thought, Greek provides access to some of the most influential literature and ideas from the greatest minds of history, as well as providing a satisfying mental stretch. The course is for anyone interested, including parents, and will cover the alphabet, verb forms and simple sentences. Please just drop Mrs Derrick an email if you are interested.
Mrs Unwin and Mr van Niekerk have been ensuring that the boarders are supported and able to communicate easily and effectively. The girls have been enjoying keeping in touch with boarding staff and each other via Instagram and Twitter, as well as trying out ideas at home suggested on the especially re-designed Boarding Frog page. There is a steady stream of suggestions for #PF3goodthings based on the popular #3goodthings practice of reflection each day.
The PE, Music, Drama and Creative Arts departments have been busy inspiring the girls to keep active and maintain their skills whilst they are at home. Mr Pratt and Mr Maynard have so far devised and produced three wonderfully uplifting music videos with the girls which you can see on YouTube here. Their next challenge – in which they want the whole school to participate – is to put together a joint performance of a number from High School Musical. Watch this space – it promises to be very special.
Mr Rood and Mrs Jacques have been busy making masks for PPE for a local doctors’ surgery. The design took several days to perfect and each mask took an hour to make. We have also donated PPE from our Science department. Mrs Rodge, one of our technicians, has been busy with others in her community baking cakes for local care homes, some of which have not had any external visitors for some weeks. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we are proud to say that both our school nurses are currently back working for the NHS in local hospitals. We send them our love and gratitude on behalf of the whole community and hope they keep safe.
Charities are likely to be seriously adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis. We have all been awed by the achievement of Major Tom raising funds for the NHS and Prior’s Field girls have picked up the gauntlet and are making a difference in their own way. Many of the school community are participating in the House competition – Race Around the World – and the national 555 challenge. Individual girls are also working on their own initiatives.
Miss Curtin this week launched PF’s Campaign for Kindness. It has been overwhelming hearing about what the girls are all doing to spread hope and love during this difficult time and how they are donating your time and money to local and national causes. On 3 May, for example, Lottie C is going to be walking 2 miles for Pancreatic Cancer in Surrey, whilst at the same time her grandfather, who is bravely battling the disease, will be walking the same distance (in small stages) in Northumberland. If you would like to support Lottie, you can go to her JustGiving page here. Girls, please continue to let us know what you are doing to help others.
The school is a strange place with no chattering and laughing in the corridors. It does, however, have a quiet calm about it, as though it is waiting patiently for the return of its usual occupants. There are only a few of us here at the moment, mainly residential staff, carefully keeping our distance from each other. We are fortunate though to be able to enjoy the stunning ceanothus and flowers in the Rose Garden and the sea of bluebells in the woods.
So, at the end of a week where a new temporary normality has been established, I would like to thank parents and guardians for all your support and to wish you a relaxed weekend wherever you are in the world.