Faith in our communities

Over the course of the last few weeks, I have had the chance to sit down individually with every member of Year 11 (with one meeting still to go) to talk through their studies, hopes and aspirations for this coming year and those that follow. It has been particularly significant because this is the year group that joined the Senior School at the same time as me, and having been in Year 8 as Covid struck, they were one of the years group that were particularly affected by the operational disruption of Covid-19 guidance to schools.

I can picture them as the sweet new Year 7 pupils who I would chat to every morning as they unpacked their lockers, located just beside my office, and as a Year 9 that disproportionately found themselves being sent home because they had sat within 2 metres of a pupil, who had later tested positive, for 15 minutes or more. However, it is when you meet pupils after they have sat their mocks, when they are increasingly clear about what they would like to study next year, and in turn at university, that you really see how quickly, and well they have grown up in spite of the complications they have faced.

In the week that I lost my brother at a cruelly young age, earlier this term, my attendance at school was understandably intermittent, and yet I would not have missed the appointments with Year 11 for the world. Their sense of optimism and the honesty of their conversations, their keenness to reflect upon how they can adapt their approach in the coming months, genuinely warms any heart. I was particularly cheered by the positivity with which one pupil’s eyes lit up as they talked about an interest that will surely shape their future career.

The recent death of Emma Pattison, head of Epsom College, and her daughter, has left all that knew her feeling immensely shocked and sad. Having visited her in December, I could see already what a difference she had made for the good of the school community, and it is hard to imagine how difficult the last few weeks will have been for the pupils and staff in particular. If there is one thing you can be sure of, it is that they will gain strength, united in their wish to be proud of themselves and everything Emma would have aspired her school to be.

There is much in the news about the challenges of teaching and the moments when things can go awry, but there is a reason we, as teachers, enter this profession; a faith that our pupils will be inspired by us to take on the challenges of tomorrow.


Mr William Brierly