A New Normal For Princethorpe
Princethorpe, like the rest of the planet, has been adjusting to a 'new normal' over the last few weeks.
In the run up to lockdown parents and pupils received regular communications on the latest government advice, how to minimise the spread of COVID-19 and the importance of handwashing and hygiene generally. At break and lunchtime pupils were supervised sanitising their hands and the legendary Princethorpe cookies were individually wrapped. The usual busy school calendar was impacted, with sports fixtures gradually cancelled and events and activities postponed as the virus took hold.
Even the Chapel was forced to close, after one last wedding, and Mass conducted by Fr Teddy O'Brien had to move online.
The Foundation schools eventually closed their doors to pupils, on government orders on Monday 23 March and our home learning programmes commenced immediately. The drive and playground were empty of cars and the school was eerily quiet as it opened for only a relatively few children of key workers and the staff needed to support them.
Our pupils in Year 11 and Upper Sixth had to come to terms swiftly with the news that after all their hard work they would have no public exams this summer, and no end of year celebrations, with their results based on predicted grades provided by school and moderated by Ofqual.
The majority of our support staff were furloughed as part of the government's job retention scheme and the campuses fell silent. Over the Easter holidays, much work went into communications with parents over home learning and discounted fees and a Hardship Fund was set up for those struggling the most. Our dedicated teaching staff, essential to providing the education for our pupils, adapted lessons, learnt new IT skills and became adept at Microsoft Teams and streaming live lessons, before the Trinity Term commenced again in earnest.
Our pupils have coped brilliantly with home learning, supported by their parents who now have a greater appreciation for the teaching profession. They follow their online timetables, producing exceptional work, participating in House challenges and Tutor Time remotely. The Prefect Inauguration, House Cup, Spring Concert and Winter Sports Awards went online. Assemblies, staff briefings and careers interviews continue, the Year 11s have started pre-courses for their A-levels and BTECs and our staff are working harder than ever to maintain continuity in these uncertain times.
A small Grounds team continue to look after the Foundation sites, tending cricket pitches, mowing lawns and keeping the campus looking beautiful for our return. The Mile Walk has been resplendent with bluebells, lambs and calves have been born and nature has continued oblivious to what has been besetting the human world.
Even the OPs termly Committee Meeting was conducted via Zoom!
We are now approaching half term, the pupils are starting online end of year assessments and following the Prime Minister's announcement about the easing of lockdown, the Senior Team are making plans for Year 10 and Year 12 and staff to safely return on Monday 1 June in line with the government's guidelines. Our Junior Schools, Crackley Hall and the Crescent, will of course be welcoming back Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children too.
It has been an unprecedented episode in Princethorpe's rich history, we have had to rely extensively on our 'spirit of family' during these testing times and we know that it will probably be a long time before things are back to normal and we can welcome everyone back into the fold again as we would like to.
Until then, our message to all has been keep well, keep in touch and stay safe.