My goodness! What a year it has been? Who knew when we welcomed the children back in September 2019 that we would end the year in such a strange way?!
But ending it we are.
There have been many things to celebrate and remember about this school year and it is important that the COVID 19 pandemic and the subsequent changes to society do not overshadow all that has happened before.
The autumn term was good! The children settled in well, produced good quality pieces of work, achieved various successes both in and out of school, made friends and looked after each other, held successful concerts and performances, explored the world through trips and visits and worked hard and played well, for the most part, together. Life in school for the vast majority of our children was a positive and meaningful experience which they gained much from. And it will be again!
As we say goodbye to this academic year and farewell to our year 6 children and families, it is important that we now look towards the future. Yes – it’s going to be a different future in many respects to the one we had all planned but we will do what we always do – embrace change and focus on the positives; for there is much to be positive about.
The year 6 children, many of whom have had four wonderful years at Elmhurst, are off on the start of a new adventure. They will take their memories of Elmhurst, the friendships made and the lessons learned with them to their new school. They have all grown so much, especially during the last few months, and have an independence and strength of character that many may not have developed to such an extent had life been “normal”. They have matured, adapted, grown and we are proud of each one of them. We know that they are ready for the next step!
We are also saying farewell to some members of staff and, whilst it is always sad to say goodbye, we must be pleased about the exciting new adventures that lay ahead of them. Mrs Oles, our school crossing patrol and Lunchtime Supervisor, left us just before lockdown. Mrs Smith, who worked in Hazel class, has left us to enjoy the sunnier climes of Spain and Mrs Griffin, who has worked at the school for many, many years and in many different roles, has taken this opportunity to retire. We wish them all the best for whichever road they choose to travel.
In saying farewell to different children and adults, we make way for new members of the school community to join us. We are so excited to welcome the new year 3 children. New personalities, new faces, new families to work alongside – the start of a four-year journey through Elmhurst. There will be productions, trips and visits, lots of hard work and opportunities. Just like our year 6 children, the year 2 children are ready to leave their Infant school and join us. It may be harder for some of the children. Without the “normal” transition visits, the youngest children in the school, along with their families, are taking a giant leap into the relative unknown. We know that the whole school community will be there to support them.
We are also welcoming new members of staff. Miss Olivia Cave, from Wrap Around Provision, and Mrs Claire London will be joining the year 3 team. Karen Crafer, a member of the lunchtime team, will also be joining us to work in Year 6 during the mornings. We look forward to working alongside Olivia, Claire and Karen and are excited about the expertise they will bring to our team.
And so we find ourselves excited about the new term in September and the possibilities that lie ahead.
Yes – we know it will be different and there are many things we won’t be able to do but please rest assured that we will do all that we can in amongst the social distancing, the tables arranged facing forwards, the lack of movement and carpet time in the classroom and the need to encourage children not to share their belongings or have physical contact with their peers, to ensure that the children have a positive, engaging experience at Elmhurst that will enable them to make progress academically but will also foster in them a love of learning, a passion to try new things, and an independence and strength of character that will allow them to play a valuable part in society.
Our ambitions for the children haven’t changed – the journey has just taken a slightly different route for the foreseeable future.
When September comes, we will embrace the changes together. We will work with you to make sure that the children settle in and feel safe and secure being back in school. There will be an even greater focus on well being and mental health support for any child who needs it. We will work with parents to support children who may struggle to return to school. There will be a slightly slower and more gentle pace to the start of the new school term. The school diary is looking very empty at the moment.
But how lucky we are to be given the time to build relationships and a sense of community? The academic work will still be there but it is really important that children aren’t put under additional stress by being reminded of all the learning they have “lost” during the lockdown. Let’s focus instead on what they have gained from the experience: the new skills they have learnt whilst at home, the time spent with their families – the hall display is full of photos of the wonderful things children have been doing whilst at home. When children are ready, we will work with them, and you, to help them “catch up” in the key areas.
So as we say farewell to this strange year, we also want to say thank you.
When you choose to send your child to Elmhurst, you enter a partnership with the school – a shared responsibility for the academic and social development of your child. We couldn’t have done this without your support. There have been challenges along the way and unpopular decisions at times, but your support has been overwhelming. Thank you.
The whole team at Elmhurst has pulled together and Mike and I are so proud of the team we have here: the children, you, the parents and families, the staff and Governors of Elmhurst – all working together and supporting each other. Thank you!
We will be taking a break over the holidays but you will not be far from our thoughts. Class Dojo, Google Classroom and Facebook will still be there. We may not respond quite as often but we will be checking in when it is right for us to do so – just in case. Please do not expect an immediate response to your messages. The teachers will not be posting any classwork – it is the summer holiday, after all!
Tracy and Mike