I know it has been a long time since we did a blog but the unpredictable nature of schools, Covid and exams means that our focus has been purely on the pupils, staff and the wider community we serve.
I am sat writing this as my year 11 class, who I have taught throughout key stage 4 and much of year 9, are completing a formal assessment which will form part of their evidence for their final GCSE grades. It feels like the end of a journey and as they pack their bags, in preparation for their next stage, we could not be more proud of them. Year 11 are focused and determined, there is virtually no sound as I teach them as they are all listening to every word, wanting that extra mark, that higher grade, pushing themselves in everything they do. The system that they are confronted with has changed throughout their time completing GCSE’s and finally now that they have some certainty and can give it their best shot, they are doing just that. I have just 1 or 2 more lessons with them, the final push as it were and I will miss them when their time at Hastings ends. This is the case for all the year 11 pupils that leave us, we get such an emotional attachment to our classes as we put our hearts and souls into giving them every possible chance which means asking teachers to grade their students is such a hard job. I hope that they all pack a bit of Hastings to take with them and remember that they will always be part of our family. Though we will be sad to see them go onto a new chapter in their lives we will look forwards to seeing them in the future as teachers, electricians, hairdressers, gardeners, farmers, scientists, mechanics, shop workers and all manner of other professions and we hope that everything that we have done with them has equipped them with the skills to play an active part in society and make our local community a better place.
As we start to reflect on what has been a tumultuous year thoughts turn to the next class, the next GCSE group and what the next academic year will bring. With Covid this year has been so different and we have had to adapt quickly (and often!) and all of our pupils have responded magnificently. With a chance at some sort of normality also comes opportunity. We talked a lot at the start of the year about the Japanese word Kiki, we were hoping that from a crisis, opportunity would spring out. I don’t think that anyone predicted that the crisis would still be an ongoing part of our lives a year later but the opportunities are there and there has been lots of hard thinking and research about how we utilise these opportunities going forwards. Covid restrictions have meant a massive change to our standard school day, with whole day lessons, staggered starts, breaks, lunches and finish times and all the changes that has entailed. Part of the opportunity is thinking about what we have been forced to change and which of those changes on reflection make the school better. For the first time in my career the timetable at this stage of the year is blank as no idea has yet been discounted. At school we will be working with staff over the coming weeks to decide what should stay and what should go, as we do this piece of work we will also seek parent and pupil viewpoints . This relates back to the packing of bags because as we move on to the next part of the journey and as lockdown restrictions start to lift we have the opportunity to carefully consider what should remain in our bags that we take with us and what has served its purpose and is now worn out and needs to be left behind.
If this year has taught us anything it is that our pupils are much more resilient than the press give them credit for and as I look around my classroom now I can see that radiates in every pupil here. I hope that all of our pupils take the opportunities that come their way and show that they are not the Covid generation, they are so much more than that.