Planning for the Future

As the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to decrease in the UK, the coronavirus alert level has been reduced from four to three and this allows for a gradual relaxation of restrictions. The ‘R’ rate remains between 0.7 and 1 which means that the situation is continuing to improve. However, as we emerge from this crisis, we are acutely aware of the fact that the international context is not uniformly so positive. Local outbreaks or ‘hotspots’ in some countries serve as a warning that we need to remain vigilant and keep in place those protocols and procedures necessary to minimise risk to all within our communities.

Consequently, the lowering of the coronavirus alert level in the UK will not result in any immediate change of approach here at Rossall. From this morning, we have all of our Junior School year groups back with us but they will continue to practice social distancing and they are restricted to pods of fifteen children or less. They will continue to receive temperature scans every morning and they will continue to wear face masks in classrooms.

There is a danger that after weeks of lockdown, people will be inclined to behave irresponsibly during this period of relative freedom. This is an opportunistic virus which is impervious to human sentiment and it will doubtless exploit situations where people have become thoughtless or careless. We hope all Rossall families will continue to exercise the high level of caution that has served to keep us entirely healthy throughout these past few months.

Rossall provides a safe haven within which school life can proceed as normally as possible. Indeed, the point of the protocols and procedures that we have put in place is not to limit life within School but to ensure that our co-curricular and classroom activities may continue safely.

Successful schools need to be agile and stand ready to ensure that children receive the very highest quality of education no matter the nature of the challenges presented by external circumstances. Any school which does less than this is ultimately failing its children. We feel very well placed in many regards. It is not for nothing that our international partners have deemed our response to be one of the most proactive within the sector.

By the end of this term we will have delivered over 15,000 face-to-face lessons online and we will have continued to provide pastoral support to all of our pupils. Being a Rossallian, means being part of a community which has an extraordinary capacity to flourish no matter the obstacles placed within our path. In terms of educational outcomes, this has been Rossall’s most successful year on recent record and that is surely partly attributable to the positive and creative dynamic that pervades the School.

Flight details for our returning boarders are now flooding in and we cannot wait to welcome everybody back for the new academic year. It is going to be wonderful to see so many familiar faces after such a long absence. Zoom and Google have served us well but nothing compares to the joy of being together once more. To see so many happy faces in the Junior School serves as a constant reminder of what was missing for the last few months. More importantly, it is an important milestone in our journey back to normality.

The UK government now accepts the importance of all children returning to School in September and there is a common acceptance amongst the world’s leaders that ensuring that children are in school and receiving an education constitutes a key priority moving forward. The potential emotional and psychological damage of prolonged absence could result in a lost generation or a generation whose life chances are forever compromised by isolation and a weak provision. The ability to form meaningful relationships, to navigate friendships and to work as part of a team are so very vital to our personal and professional lives and much of the purpose of being at school is to provide a context within which young people can successfully grow.

Building projects ahead of the Summer Term

Dining Hall
I am delighted that the redecoration of the Dining Hall has now commenced. The Dining Hall was designed by local Lancashire architect, Sir Hubert Worthington (1886 – 1963) and completed in 1931. Sir Hubert Worthington was very seriously wounded on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He received no less than six machine gun bullets to his body and was invalided out of the army as a result. After the Second World War, he became the Imperial War Graves Commission’s Principal Architect for Egypt and he designed the beautiful war memorial at Alamein. Our Dining Hall is one of the crowning jewels of our fantastic school campus and I am delighted that the Rossall Foundation has agreed to fund this major restoration project in its entirety. It should be completed by early August and we cannot wait to see the transformation that will have taken place.

Infants School
Last year the Reception Class received a brand new classroom and then the Nursery was relocated and refurbished during the Autumn Term. Now it is the turn of our Year One and Year Two cohorts and our maintenance team are currently creating bright, spacious and technologically enriched teaching spaces for these classes. This work should be completed by the end of July – well in advance of the Autumn Term.

Sports, Performing Arts and Outward Bound Expeditions
Over the past few months, we have been liaising with various bodies such as HMC and the BSA to discuss how we might safely reintroduce these aspects of school life. We have received advice from the governing bodies of many different sports and we have thought very carefully about how we can ensure that our children are able to be creative during the months ahead. Plans are well advanced to manage a safe return to all of these activities and in almost every circumstance, there are creative and exciting ways of adapting to ensure that our children are still able to access those opportunities and activities that serve to make school so much fun.

Question and Answer Session
I will be holding my next Q&A session at 1:00 pm (BST) this Friday, 26th June. As always, please do send in questions either before to Lucy Barnwell on [email protected] or during our live session on Facebook.

There are those who feel anxious about the future and tend to focus on what might not be possible in the first instance. By contrast, we are tremendously excited and we are superbly well placed to face the future with optimism and confidence.

Jeremy Quartermain