It’s been a wonderful week. To hear our students running down corridors, giggling with their friends, or heading out in groups with their faces turned to the sunshine has been life affirming. The rattle of bags in classrooms, voices raised in passionate debate and our pupils everywhere re-connecting. How strange that media such as screens, designed to connect us, actually separate us from one another. Everyone needs mental, emotional and social connections for their wellbeing and that, I have come to realise, as has OHS, happens here in the buzz of the school day. The words from Corinthians 1 ‘through a glass darkly’ have reverberated as we have moved from a grey, depersonalised virtual two dimensional world to glorious, saturated 3D. Similar to the change in seeing a picture which is unremarkable in black and white suddenly glow with colour in a filter. We are truly back.
I think, as a result, this week has also reminded us of what an education at OHS is really about. It isn’t about the filling of a bucket, or online direct instruction. What we want at OHS is a wonderfully progressive, empowering education which enables debate, critical analysis and engagement with the extraordinary minds, not just of literature or of the canon but in the same classroom as oneself. In lessons this week I have seen great advocacy for the amount of chocolate put in Easter Eggs and students who are going to write to supermarkets to protest as a result, older pupils looking at the predictability – or not – of sampling methods. The First Edition of Jane Eyre, found in a box a few years ago at the back of the library, has been put on show in reception and students have been gathering to admire ‘Currer Bell’ and here, on my desk, lies Defining Evil by Estelle Francis (her pen name) a pupil who has, in Charlotte Bronte’s tradition written her own. That, that sense of going beyond what is the norm, of challenging the established bounds is a characteristic not just of the education that the students receive here but of the approach they take to everything. Bold, ambitious and sparky and yet, no two girls are the same. Authentic, genuine advocates for themselves and those around them and it is so good to welcome them.
And I must pay tribute here to the entire team for ensuring we have a safe and secure return. The staff at OHS have been extraordinary, putting their own worries about the return to the side and welcoming back our community so warmly. Of course there are anxieties and, with listening and dialogue, we are resolving these one at a time with understanding and kindness. The testing regime has been exemplary and the compliance with face coverings in the classroom has been really positive (not sure that’s the right word to use in the circumstances!). On a serious note though, thank you to everyone both in and out of school for being so understanding and supportive.
Finally, although exhilarating, it has also been tiring. Your daughters and our staff have been thrilled by the return and the full technicolour has also been draining, moving from a world where you press a button to turn off the screen, to withdraw from the conversation and where some haven’t been out of slippers for 3 months. Be kind to yourselves and to one another and find the time to switch off, down tools and just stare into the distance, watch trees waving in the wind and connect with the earth and the grass.
I wish you a lovely week,
Mrs Gardiner Legge