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Reflections Tim Calvey

Dear Parents,

Wow, it's quite extraordinary to realise just how much you missed the obvious things as well as the less obvious! Schools are living breathing entities and whilst we remained open throughout the past 6 months, there were times when it felt disconcertingly quiet - never a good sign for a school!

I knew that the September return would feel different but I was not prepared to feel the way that I have - joy, thankful, blessed and uplifted are just a few words that begin to cover what I have felt as 500 children's voices have returned to our daily lives. We have loved the buzz, the energy and the vibrance that your children have brought back to Orley Farm and I know that whilst there is still risk, that this is absolutely the right decision - this generation need to be together, especially considering what they they have lived through over these 6 months.

We started with very clear messages about looking after ourselves and our wider community. With so many households shielding other family members as well as anxieties about returning, we felt that a very clear focus on our school value...

Treat others as you know they wish to be treated

...would be a good starting point. This was then coupled with 3 of our 10 Thinking Skills, 'Empathy', 'Good Judgement' and 'Flexibility of Mind' to keep everything front and centre. We are trying to maintain the correct balance between reducing anxiety around a clear step change in life, with rigid healthy habits in hygiene and suitable distancing - no easy task but something that staff and pupils appear to have handled so well across the past week. No doubt constant reminders and adjustments will need to be made but I am confident that we are doing the right thing in the current circumstances.

Welcome to the new generation of Orleyans, it was simply amazing joining Reception classes this week as strangers introduced themselves to each other...where might these friendships take them?!?
And that was Day 1...

Across the school, we have used the first 3 days to reflect, share and take stock. Wherever possible, we have got out of the classroom to use our space to inspire these moments in preparation for Monday, the start of a full week of learning!

Healthy body...
Time to think, record and reflect...
Smiles and moments of shared wonder...
Mindful memories...

A great deal has happened over this short week but I hope that it has offered time for pupils, staff and parents to realise how far we have come as well as the priorities that we want and need to return to in the coming weeks - a snapshot is always good to look back on!

We always knew we would laugh...
Strong bonds...
It's our time...

I thought that I would close with some feedback from reflection sessions that Alex, our school counsellor, noted from spending time with our senior pupils:

'I learned today that some people in my year have actually been going through a rough time and perhaps instead of sticking with my usual crowd, I should include them more'.
'I didn't know that what I was doing in lockdown was a bad habit, but I can see how more positive thinking can get me out of it'.
'I realise that getting upset over my wifi/computer not working was nothing compared to what some of my friends were going through'.

Thank you for your patience regarding drop off and collection. I realise that with significant roadworks taking place on the doorstep, things have not been straightforward. However, it gave me a rare promotion in joining our support staff in high viz jackets to help direct traffic and parents were suitably flexible and supportive, so 'thank you', things will ease as we all adjust.

I wish all of our families a restful weekend and a time to share stories of more familiar times. We are in no rush to forget valuable lessons that need to be taken from these extraordinary times as we all search for kinder and more appropriate goals - thank you for being the community that you are, I count myself to be mightily blessed in being a part of Orley Farm.

Tim Calvey