The old God of January famously looks two ways, but the future way always wins

We have been interviewing, remotely of course (does it even need saying these days?) both for next year’s prospective pupils at 11+, 10+ and 13+, but also for academic scholarships, the traditional Scholarship Day being sadly impossible. And it is always a pleasure, surprisingly effective to do on line and especially gratifying to sense the optimism and good will of parents and pupils alike. And to get a bit of an insight into the often ingenious ways junior and primary schools are engaging in remote learning.

Such resilience is a commonplace of these times, but no less impressive for that … and of course spare a thought for exam candidates, whether at 16+ (some IGCSEs still possible and vagueness still surrounding others) or 18+ (the IB still considering options, and some might think, and I think I agree, with good reason). Still, they by my judgment are being remarkably stoical about it all, and I am so impressed by that. It is, of course, all we can do.

This weekend came tragic news for the community that one of our longest-serving colleagues, senior Physics technician Mike Knott had passed away in hospital, having contracted Covid. As with last term’s tragedy, each of us is affected and deeply saddened, none more so than the Science department and their team of technicians, who had known Mike so long and so well. All we can do, as well as offering support to his family, is continue to do what we can for pupils, and I know staff will do so.

The always-readable Matthew Parris’s column this Saturday made the point that it’s easy to get drawn into panic at these times. I had a head of department once who relabelled his in-tray successively ‘to do’, then when it got too full ‘today’, then ‘urgent’ and finally ‘now!’ … and I’ve noticed that routine messages are now labelled ‘alert!’ and ‘urgent’ too … it doesn’t help.

Meanwhile, crisp frosts are whitening the grounds: it is after all January. The coldest winter I have ever lived through was when I was a student for a year in northern France. I have never been so cold for so long, literally shivering even inside. It seemed to go on for ever. But of course, one day the trees started to drip and the air lost its bite. I don’t mean to be sentimental or shallow, but so it is now: we know it is. The old God of January famously looks two ways, but the future way always wins.

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