The busy buzz of South Hampstead has well and truly made a comeback this term.
Although the Covid wolf is at the door again, we have managed to get through the term with lessons as normal, lower levels of Covid-related absence in the Senior School, and numerous successful events under our belt.
None of these would have been possible without the irrepressible enthusiasm of our pupils and the direction and hard work of our staff.
As well as the numerous highlights shared on our website – from The Sixth Form Theatre Company’s short film premiere at the Vue cinema, to yesterday’s enthusiastic outdoor House Music performances – there have been so many special, unsung moments. So I thought I would celebrate some of the lesser-known highlights of my term – the things you do not always see but which say so much about our community. I do enjoy a good list, so here are my unsung moments of the autumn term 2021:
1. The applications put together for university by the Class of 2022 were as strong as ever. What always impresses me when I see the students for the final send-off is the thought they have put into their personal statements and the care staff have put into references. Pupils are sometimes a bit misty-eyed as they come into my office clutching their UCAS application, having just seen their reference for the first (and last) time. I often come away from my individual meetings feeling inspired by the curiosity of your daughters and armed with more recommendations for my bookshelves.
2. The apologetic nature of our pupils when they know they have done something wrong. I have been on something of a Rubbish Rampage this half term, frustrated by a decline in general tidiness around the school. When I shared my disappointment with the pupils, I was heartened to see that a week later, on a post-breaktime tour of the school, I found not a single piece of rubbish. Two weeks later, two Heads of Year sent me some delightful promotional videos made by Year 11 and Year 8 about the importance of not ‘walking by’. My War on Waste is not yet entirely won and I will be back on this hobby horse next term.
3. The care of our pastoral team in the widest possible sense. I was delighted that we were shortlisted for a national wellbeing award, but I am always impressed at the care my colleagues show individual students, from counselling Year 7 about their co-curricular commitments and how to make new friends, to advising Upper Sixth students on how to juggle the demands of their A Level studies, university applications and leadership responsibilities.
4. The amazing punctuality rates of our current Year 11 cohort – I say this having just signed off their excellent reports. The number of students with 0 late marks is impressive and a testament to their resilience and professional approach to school life. I will be congratulating all students with 0 late marks at the start of next term, once their mocks start. Why does this matter? Well, as a parent who came to speak to our Upper Sixth cohort about a brilliant work experience opportunity explained, being on time matters in the world of work.
5. Little moments of unexpected joy – the musical medley we were treated to in the atrium this week by some of our singers; my drop-in to the Art department last week in which I admired the sketchbooks of our Year 10 and Lower Sixth art students; my visit to our new codeLab last week to crack some cypher codes with the assistance of my Year 7 partner; the staff choir singing carols this evening…
These moments are all precious and nothing pleases me more than when I see pupils and staff enjoying their work on a daily basis.
I wish you all much planned and unplanned joy this Christmas and all good wishes for 2022. Mehr Licht!