Look on, out and forward

Last week was a sombre week, marked by more than one personal as well as community sadness, but a strong community shows its strength at such times, times that ‘fire our irresolute clay’ as C. Day Lewis wrote. It’s true of many communities – offices, hospitals, schools and more – that they have come closer during the months of Covid, and that true was evident this week.

An example of things on a smaller scale was the excellent Junior Literary Festival, a long-standing November item, this year delivered by half a dozen superb authors each remoting in to class groups for live and interactive sessions, in many ways more intimate, more immediate than the big venues with whole year groups of previous years. And an example consistently this term of communities sticking together has been the remarkable way classes have worked together even when some are present and others not, technology of course making everything possible. And this last weekend another community was at work: the Oxbridge group, a large proportion of the Upper Sixth, but a team in its own right who at best support and inspire each other, held their Oxbridge preparation Saturday, with a blend of in-person and on-line interviews as well as seminars and discussions.

Hunkering in to the small community is all very well, and I know we’ve been told to, but it’s not the right long-term attitude. Inward looking has never been the Whitgift way, and I’m pleased that this week also saw us start to develop some exciting longer-term relationships with some external partners who we hope will be part of our next stages of development. If that sounds vague, I’m sorry … more in due course! That the Upper Sixth prefects are already thinking of their legacy relates too to the need to look on, out and forward. Talking of which, my own view is that masks, as necessary as they are, should not lead to a heads-down, inward-looking society. You can say hello, chat and even smile – and expect Whitgiftians to do so!

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