Mr Bolderow’s Blog Week 5

22nd May 20

I hope that this last newsletter of the half term finds you well.  I have been informed this week of some families that are unwell with the virus.  I hope that you get well soon and please know you are in my thoughts.

The world of education has been under the spotlight this week with much of the talk around whether schools would or should reopen.  Whilst most of the focus is on primary age children, the government would also like Year 10 and 12 to have some face-to-face time with their teachers before the end of term.  We are currently preparing a timetable for boys to return to school two days per week, so we do not have both year groups in at the same time and help us to maintain social distancing.  The timetable has also been planned so that boys and staff do not have to travel during peak travel times. I must however stress that any reopening is conditional upon the Government’s five tests being met.  Once we have confirmation, which I understand is likely to come towards the end of next week, I will be in touch with more details.

Many staff were pleased and surprised to receive messages from their pupils thanking them for their hard work earlier this week.  It was a much needed boost at the end of a challenging half term.  I was very pleased to receive this message from the PTA which I share with you all:

“On behalf of the WSS PTA, we would like to express our gratitude to all of the teachers, support staff and also the Wellbeing Team who have so quickly adapted to the new way of working. During these very uncertain times, it is reassuring to know that WSS teachers have carried on with the daily task of educating our boys with both professionalism and humour. We salute you all and would like to recognise your vital contributions as we mark National Thank a Teacher Day.”

As ever, I am grateful for the support of the PTA.

This week has seen one of the adaptions we have had to make this term as the Year 11 started on the A Level Foundation Course which will give them a taste of the subject matter they will be covering over the next two years as well as the independence necessary for success at A Level.  That they will have the chance to start the course before we return as well as finding out early if they have made the right choices is an opportunity others have not had and I am pleased to hear that they are embracing the opportunity and working hard.

I hope that you all have a very good half term and I will be in touch with further updates as I have them.

Best wishes, Seth

Mr Bolderow’s Blog Week 4

15th May 20

I hope that this email finds you safe and well.  It has been another good week with lots of shout outs from the staff and excellent work from the boys.  I have had good work shared with me, from Oscar Frederiksen’s computer animation to explain how different variables change pressure (tune into my assembly later for a short snippet), to Lorenzo creating an avatar for Mr Pimlott to use.

I also want to mention the excellent work of Harry Singh Virdee in Year 11 and Monty Cortazzi in Year 12 who have helped West London Mission sort and deliver groceries to homeless men in the area earlier this week.  The men are usually accommodated in the night shelter on Seymour Place but have all been relocated to hotels in the area. They distributed bags and bags of groceries generously donated by Waitrose and I know they hope this is the first of many such deliveries.

As I mentioned in assembly last week, we are saying goodbye to a year group for the first time.  Their commitment to the School Community continues to inspire me – Louis Jegou has offered to tutor younger boys in Maths over Microsoft Teams.  I hope that any younger boys who need help in this area will take Louis up on this very kind offer. A normal Year 13 farewell would include an opportunity for them to talk with staff, share some memories and say goodbyes – Zoom, which has become the tool for all sorts of communicating and socialising, will be the venue for their farewell later today.

Many of the staff have put together farewell videos for our Year 13 leavers to share some stories and memories of the year group (I particularly enjoyed the story about Mr Warner convincing a Duke of Edinburgh participant that they needed to bow to the cows to pass safely through a field) and pass on some words of advice for the future (“never pretend to be more well-read than you actually are”).

I was struck by two things watching the videos – firstly the affection the staff have for the boys and secondly that the boys are taught by a fascinating, interesting, caring and funny group of teachers.  Watching the videos reminded me how lucky I am to have the workmates I have and how much I am looking forward to working with them in person in the future.

I hope you enjoy the weekend.

Best wishes, Seth

Mr Bolderow’s Blog Week 3

11th May 20

Dear Parents,

As ever, I hope this email finds you and your families well.  It has been a positive week at the School – lots of ‘shout outs’ from the staff recognising the achievements of the boys.  What I particularly enjoyed is that the boys in some tutor groups have started giving shout outs to the staff for lessons that they have particularly enjoyed or for recognising their efforts in some other areas.  As you can imagine this has gone down very well with the staff who have received them; mutual support and appreciation is important as we continue in lockdown.

I have been sent several examples of excellent work by the boys over the last few days.  The reports I received from Mrs Skinner that the boys wrote after their virtual Field Day were a very entertaining read; one boy had gone to four of the different sites and boys from every year group filed reports.  The most moving were those who had taken the virtual tour of Anne Frank’s house.  The boys were genuinely reflective and had learnt a lot from that experience. I am also delighted to hear of boys developing their interests or skills while in lockdown and Tommaso S now has a film review Instagram account called the_silver_screen_library.  Films reviewed so far include The Two Popes, London Has Fallen and Victoria and Abdul.

This week, however, is tinged with a little regret.  Today would have been our Leavers’ Morning for Year 13.  The morning would have been a chance for staff and our first Year 13 leavers to reminisce about their time at the School, a last moment to relax in the Sixth Form Centre before heading off to the serious business of A Level revision.  We are going to arrange something for them and the staff via Zoom at the end of next week so we can still have that moment. They have been an excellent year group in so many ways and always risen to the challenge of being the Wetherby Senior pioneers.  I hope there will be a chance to celebrate face to face before they head off to university or at the end of their first term.

Best wishes, Seth

Mr Bolderow’s Blog Week 2

1st May 20

Dear Parents,

I hope that this letter finds you safe and well.  The virus continues to impact members of our community and, as ever, please do let us know if you have been affected as we are here to support in any way we can.

Last night’s press conference gave some hope that the situation will become more relaxed and that elements of everyday life will start to resume although it is going to be a slow process.  The lack of certainty is, I know, challenging for the boys – my five year old says at some point every day, “I just want to go to school” and no matter how successful our remote learning is, I understand that your sons will be missing the social interaction that is such a valuable part of normal school life.  The staff are feeling the same – as one teacher said to me yesterday “teaching is a personal business” and they miss the lighter side of teaching boys that comes when you are all in a classroom working together on a task – the side of teaching that can get lost on Teams.

My assembly today ( draws on some advice from Classical philosophy and I hope that it will give the boys a different perspective.  I am also pleased that it will feel a little bit more like a normal assembly as it will include a piece played on the guitar by Thomas Keeley in Year 7 and I know Mr Martin is drumming up more performances by the boys for future assemblies.

I hope that your sons have made good use of the time today to visit some of the locations on the virtual Field Day.  Whilst routine is key, we felt the opportunity to pursue one of their interests or investigate a new one, was important as was the chance to have a break from the normal timetable after two weeks’ work online.  I am really looking forward to reading some of their accounts and finding out what they learnt.

I hope you all continue to stay safe and well,

With best wishes, Seth

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