Welcome to Trinity Term 2020 Wednesday 22nd April 2020
Hello and welcome back to NCS after what I hope, in the circumstances, has been a productive and enjoyable Easter break.
I say that, understanding that very many of you will be facing an especially trying time – with family members on the front line, and perhaps some concerns and anxieties about what this whole situation will mean for us in the future. The important thing for the moment is to take each day as it comes, and to focus on those things that we can control day-by-day.
For the next ten or eleven weeks, that day-by-day existence will have a fair amount of schoolwork in it. But, of course, it won’t be the school life that we are all used to. I can say, sitting in a very quiet school that hasn’t been silenced for 640 years, that we all miss you very much. There is a reason that we all go into teaching, and it is not to sit behind cameras or to set written work remotely. I would much rather be speaking to you in chapel right now. But we are all having to adapt to these circumstances, and I want to say how proud I am of the whole community – boys, teachers, support staff, parents, grandparents, siblings – for how it is pulling together and offering the mutual support we all need.
A few people have asked me how this whole situation will be written up in the history books. My answer, so far, is that it is too early to say. But it is a useful reminder that different generations still live through moments, or periods, of what will become history. It is tempting to think that, because we have iPads and Netflix, that pinch points in history will just pass us by. We don’t have civil wars or political revolutions (mostly). We are not living through a religious Reformation or a world war. But it is worth remembering that generations of NCS boys havelived through those things. They have been witnesses to remarkable moments and periods of history – sometimes in ways they really rather would not have done. And I hope it is not too insensitive to remind ourselves that, without the plague of the mid-1300s, there may not be a New College or New College School at all. We are all witnesses to history at the moment, and when the history books come to be written, they should include your voices too.
So what will this term look like? As you will have seen from the remote learning documents sent to all families, we are taking a pragmatic approach, with careful and practical responses to different age groups and subjects. So the term will look rather different depending on which year you are in and which teachers you have for different subjects. But that isn’t really so different from normal life on Savile Road. The big difference is the fact that we won’t have the same number of interactions as a community outside the classroom, in the corridors, between lessons, at breaks, lunchtimes and during activities. I am a big believer that this is where a huge amount of ‘real’ education happens – where we learn how to treat one another, how to coexist, how to develop the manners that make us. So my challenge for you this week, and over the coming weeks, is to replicate those manners at home, to find opportunities to show the considerate kindness that we appreciate in NCS pupils. This might involve aiding siblings with their work, helping with the cooking and washing up, giving your parents a hug when they’ve had enough of their endless Zoom meetings. Whatever it is, let us know – we love hearing about all the things you are getting up to.
In the meantime, have a very good start to the new term – one of the most bizarre terms in six and a half centuries of the school’s existence – and you will hear from me again very soon.