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Learning is above all a social activity

Hardly credible that it is November, but it is (and is there perhaps something vaguely mathematically interesting about 1/11/21 as a date? Mathematicians would doubtless know). Still, the first half of term has been from our perspective immensely satisfying, with so much of what makes education rich and enjoyable restored to our lives: clubs and societies mixing year groups, fixtures and performances, the social aspects in short from which we all learn so much.

It’s good too to look forward to what with luck will be a full, almost giddying run of events in the second half: the resumption of the informal evenings for parents which I hope helps us stay in touch with what families are thinking and feeling, some more open events and indeed entrance assessments … and the long-awaited return of school theatre.

I know I’ve said it before, but few activities engender team effort and team spirit like a school production: actors, technical teams, directors, producers all rely on each other to an extent seen rarely elsewhere. And few things have more capacity to absorb those involved emotionally and creatively. So my best wishes to all involved in Chariots of Fire, as with other upcoming productions and events.

Throughout lockdown, and whatever the merits of remote learning - and I do fully accept there are many, not least for those who find it more challenging to meet in schools and colleges for any number of reasons - I think we have all felt that learning is above all a social activity. Some colleagues in both state and independent schools have formed an admirable Coalition for Youth Mental Health recently, and you can’t help but applaud their work and agree with what they have to say. Did we not realise, as a society, though, that banging kids up for months on end would prove to bring a ghastly toll in mental health? I’d like to say I did … I think I did … but whatever else we do, let’s learn the lesson and remember that all of us need each other, school children perhaps more than most. And whatever else happens as autumn turns to winter, let’s hold that in our minds!

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