Normal For Now

I made a pledge to the Common Room last week that I would avoid using the phrase ‘the new normal’ for the foreseeable future and find a replacement which did not grate quite so much. The same topic recently came up in a Zoom call with other Heads and one of my colleagues from the West Country shared that his preferred option was ‘normal for now’. In an act of flagrant plagiarism, I have adopted this phrase for many reasons, not least its nod to the temporary nature of the status quo and the fact that things will, at some point, revert to a more agreeable state of affairs.

Zoom was also the medium via which a quarter of you were welcomed to the Wellington Community last week as Murray Lindo hosted a series of calls with all our new parents. I hope you enjoyed seeing each other, albeit on screen, and hearing more about what being a member of the Wellington Community means. Murray and his team have done the most remarkable job over the past 4-5 years building an inspiring and engaging programme for the parent body and it is a cause of deep frustration to me personally that we are just not able to see you around in the edges of College life – in the V&A, around the sports pitches, in the Lodge garden for drinks – as we have done in previous years. To be completely honest, the lack, or at least limited presence of parents on site is one of the least palatable aspects of the new normal – sorry! – normal for now.

The Wellington Community, as I said briefly in those Zoom calls last week, is one of the jewels in the College’s crown and, as a school, we aim to adopt an approach which seeks to embrace parents wherever and whenever possible, rather than keeping you at arms’ length at the front gates. It may be normal for now not to be seeing as much of each other as we would like, but I do sincerely hope that you still feel in touch with your children’s lives at College, whether that is through regular phone calls, social media, Microsoft Teams, or a regular weekend catch-up at home for those of you who live in the UK.

The last few weeks, as well as witnessing the rebirth of the College as a physical school, has also played host to the usual beginning of year publications, in three of which Wellington College appears, and I hope you will forgive me for highlighting them now. Firstly, Wellington featured in the Spear’s Schools Index: Top Twenty UK Senior Schools with the review highlighting the inclusive, cosmopolitan education on offer, where “academics are strong” but “pupils are encouraged to be all-rounders” too. Can’t argue with that!

A week later the annual Tatler Schools Guide was published, focusing particularly on our Prince Albert Foundation and partnership work with local state schools, as well as our move to 50/50 coeducation. I am, of course, utterly biased but I agree whole-heartedly with the final comment, “Exciting times lie ahead for the assuredly brilliant Wellington”. Last week, we also learned that we had been awarded the accolade of “Great for Pastoral Care” by The Week in their Independent Schools Guide, with the review majoring on the Community Wellbeing and Mental Health Day in February to which so many parents contributed either through helping organise speakers, being speakers themselves, or simply attending.

That day in February encapsulated everything that is so special about the Wellington Community: a fusion and collaboration between pupils, staff and parents leading to something genuinely ground-breaking and inspiring. The College is what it is through this wonderful triangular partnership between home, school and Wellingtonian, and this is something which I hope will not just be ‘normal for now’ but will remain a defining feature of our community for a very long time to come.

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