Taunton School Main Building at Dusk

A Tale of Two Lockdowns

Posted: 15th March 2021

Staff social distancing outside of Taunton school grounds

I begin with the words of Rev. Dr. Getman from Chapel this week:

“It feels like a triumphant return after a lockdown wilderness experience. Remember that we have each been on our particular strange journeys. Don’t make assumptions about other people’s experience exactly mirroring your own. Give each other space to tell your real stories.”

Following on from that, I would like to say that, whatever “wilderness experience” we have had, the whole Taunton School community deserves a big pat on the back for binding together to make it a success for our young people. Once again teachers delivered lessons, tutoring, Games, co-curricular activities and Scholars’ sessions via our trusty virtual platforms and once again I take my hat off to colleagues, students and parents alike for their dedication and good humour in the face of no little discomfort.

Coming back this week was for many a surreal experience (“Is it the start of term, or the end of term?”), with joy to be found in the most banal of things – putting on uniform, using pen and paper, having a face-to-face meeting – and we look forward, through the lateral flow testing and the mask-wearing, to finishing the term with some semblance of normality. I believe they call it ‘finding your centre’ and I sense that the school is moving towards that ‘centre’ this week.

On the academic front, we had excellent news a few days ago from the International Baccalaureate Organisation, who have changed their timeline for Year 13, meaning that our IB students will be able to positively impact their grade for some three weeks after Easter when they return to school. This puts them roughly back where they would have been, had exams not been cancelled, and restores some parity with their peers on the A-Level or BTEC pathways, who will have the whole of the first half of term to provide positive evidence for their teacher-assessed grade – again, a timeline comparable with the normal shape of the summer. I will be writing to Years 11 and 13 A-Level and BTEC students next week with more details about TAGs and the summer term, but for now the general vibe is very encouraging.

I also know that there are many exciting plans being drawn up for the remainder of the academic year, to give back to the students some of the experiences they have missed, but I won’t steal other senior colleagues’ thunder and will simply end with a round of thank-yous:

  • To our amazing Health Centre team and everyone involved with the lateral flow tests – a massive undertaking.
  • The students in school for your positive and co-operative attitude around the extra hygiene protocols.
  • To students still at home, still dutifully logging on to blended lessons, tutorials, co-curricular sessions.
  • To parents for their loyal support of their children and the school – and the helpful feedback provided in surveys etc.
  • To colleagues on both teaching and support sides, for their continued flexibility and willingness to go the extra mile.

With best wishes to all as we come out of the wilderness.

Damian Henderson, Deputy Head Academic

Categories: Blog Senior Sixth Form