Meeting (along with Mr Munks, as it happens) a group of First Form boys this breaktime, I was struck, and impressed, that one of them asked me "how is being a Headmaster different because of Covid?" Now, I’ve attended a fair few webinars over the last few months supposing to tell me how running schools is, and is going to be, different, but my working life?
Life for them is constrained in some ways of course at the moment, though we’re finding our way to doing most of what we are and value. Top of these boys’ list of things they miss is actually mixing with other year groups: that sense (though they didn’t say it) of different generations supporting each other. You see it powerfully in Drama and Music, at its best, and we are determined to continue to find ways of keeping that spirit alive – prefects now doing more duties and mentoring, for example, ensembles starting, house drama. Next, fixtures: we are competitive beings at heart, and isolation from others, as understandable as it might be, is wrong. Going round the School, especially to specialist areas, too – and here we are planning changes after Christmas which will open up more of the School to more boys and staff, because they are right – they should get around more of our wonderful site.
What did I say to our First Former? That I have to work harder at these casual encounters than I used to have to … ‘wandering’ and ‘popping in’ is more constrained. That my work at its best is working closely with others, and that Teams and Zoom don’t quite cut it in the long term. And that I miss shaking hands, that ritual by which we say I trust you, I want to work with you.
And then to lunch with the Chaplain, where we agree how great to hold a Remembrance Service, as we will tomorrow, and as we should, because mankind has come through worse.