2020 Summer Term

The know zone

  • Care-takers
    Cait Cooper from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families highlights four ways school and college leaders can support staff wellbeing. More
  • Primary focus
    Throughout the lockdown period, ASCL's engagement with civil servants at the DfE and with other stakeholders has continued. Tiffnie Harris provides an update on some of the key issues affecting the primary education sector. More
  • Lessons learned
    Hayley Dunn highlights the lessons learned from implementing emergency plans in response to the current health crisis. More
  • September's Sixth Form
    As schools and colleges plan for their new cohort of sixth form students in September, Kevin Gilmartin examines the key areas that will impact on provision. In a time of such uncertainty, what should schools and colleges prepare for? More
  • A helping hand for further education
    Anne Murdoch highlights a new ASCL and AoC mentoring scheme to help develop personal resilience among college leaders and to empower them when faced with difficult circumstances. More
  • Weather the storm
    Before schools began to open more widely, we asked members to share their experience of the health crisis and here's what they had to say. More
  • Hitting the right note
    Principal Andrew Parkin joined ASCL Council five years ago and is a member of the Funding Committee. Here he tells us about his dedication to education and his love for music and singing. More
  • Rites of passage
    Seasons, traditions and rituals are important markers in our development as humans, but the lockdown means that - for some of our young people - the rhythms of life will skip a beat. More
Bookmark and Share

Seasons, traditions and rituals are important markers in our development as humans, but the lockdown means that – for some of our young people – the rhythms of life will skip a beat.

Rites of passage

Christmas included the same carols and readings every year; ‘Silent Night’ featured each verse sung in a different language by the students who were learning that particular tongue. In July – ‘Lord, dismiss us with thy blessing’ – the head read a repetitive passage from Philippians (‘Whatsoever is good, whatsoever is true…’) culminating in ‘Whatsoever is of good report’, which, in the context of distribution of reports to parents on the last day of term, seemed far too appropriate for comfort.

For primary schools, the Year 6 residential is a valuable rite of passage, perhaps the first time young people have been away from their families for more than a night’s sleep-over, and a valuable step along the road to independence and adulthood. It probably doesn’t feel that way to the staff who have been given the exciting development opportunity of leading the trip, and some may have been heaving a secret sigh of relief this summer.

End-of-year customs

At secondary schools, a major fixed point has become November’s Armistice Day assembly, which has grown in significance, stature and observance with the passage of time. Meanwhile, the end-of-year trips programme and enrichment or activities week can provide a sense of progression with certain year groups as they move through the school.

For some, sport, debating or music provide a succession of annual competitions, festivals, trips and performances. And the obligatory Leavers’ Assembly, shirt-signing and prom are common to most schools.

The sixth form leavers’ event at one local school apparently included a rendition of ‘The Final Countdown’ on ukuleles, which can be tracked down on YouTube – now there is a tradition worth preserving.

At the time of writing, it isn’t clear that any of these will happen this year – and feedback from students suggests they need some closure for this stage of their lives and will feel diminished if this can’t happen.

Our schools are often based in communities where generations of families have lived, studied and worked. This year, the shared memories, laughter and experiences across generations will be changed. There will be a new shared memory of 2020, but a dislocation of the annual rhythm of our lives.

The author is a regional finance director in the South West.

Want the last word?

Last Word always welcomes contributions from members. If you’d like to share your humorous observations of school life, email Permjit Mann at leader@ascl.org.uk ASCL offers a modest honorarium.