I’ve never seen my youngest daughter Gwen tackle the annual egg and spoon race at her primary school with such gusto. The sack race looked at one point if the students would leap in one bound to the finishing line.
The bunting was out, the tannoy was tinny, the teachers and support staff in shorts and shades. The English skies were grey but the bright colour of the excited students all in their house t-shirts made for a wonderful event to finish a tough full year in the pandemic.
The only difference between this year and 2020 is that it was happening as a live event – half of the parents were able to attend and the other half on live stream at home so all could take part as a school community. We all know how to adapt now.
If the pandemic has taught us anything in our school communities, it is to appreciate the simple and the mundane moments in our daily school lives. Schools around the world have all spent significant time learning online at home this past year, so we all know now how extraordinary the ordinary really is.
We have tentatively moved into this next stage of the pandemic and societies are more confident that vaccinations allow us a degree of freedom and normalcy for the first time in a long time. Schools are getting back to these mundane but key moments that are the running threads of the school year and the bonds that hold our community together.
“If the pandemic has taught us anything in our school communities, it is to appreciate the simple and the mundane moments in school.”
And how schools have celebrated. Euro 2020 has provided schools with a great opportunity for fun and global learning given that so many schools have adopted teams in the tournament. They have found out facts about the countries and been able to wear their adopted nation’s colours.
I know of French departments using the Tour de France to learn more about the country and the language, Mark Cavendish inspiring people to get out cycling again and Emma Raducanu being a brilliant role model for children to take up tennis.
The Tokyo Olympics will provide a great opportunity to learn more about the diversity and cultures of the world in schools when they are held later this month. In our Black Sea region of COBIS schools, we are working on the student events and competitions that don’t have to be online if we continue to operate safely.
“My former schools have been able to close the school year with the much-needed cohesion that our children benefit from.”
Secondary schools have allowed their students to mark the end of school with proms and graduations so we get back to celebrating key moments and these important rites of passage.
I noticed on social media that some of my former schools have been able to close the school year with the much-needed cohesion that our children benefit from, so we can start September with more hope than we did in 2020. The incredible Crickhowell High School in mid Wales launched their Dragon Boat races on the river Usk, a wonderful cross-curricula project that also looked like a lot of fun.
Wyedean School continued its brilliant DofE programme with students camping out on Welsh mountains and the Year 7 geographers still went down to the Severn tidal estuary to find and collect fossils.
“The annual summer camp last year wasn’t a success online because we were all fed up with screen time.”
In Moldova, at Heritage International School, we were able to hold our end of year traditional International Education Week, Founders’ Day, spelling bee and public speaking competitions and graduations.
Online visits to the museums and the zoo really worked, but the physical trips we held this May were just fantastic. We have music concerts back physically, we said goodbye to departing colleagues properly and even in person. The annual Heritage Summer Camp last year wasn’t a success online because we were all fed up with screen time. This year, the physical summer camp is back on and it is a joy to see children outside, engaged, being children again.
I’ve been impressed with the innovative schools that are using drones to beam live aerial pictures back to parents of sports day and graduations, as our hybrid models for access to school life continue to evolve and get more sophisticated.
Mundane comes from the Latin, mundus, which means “world”. It means being in the physical world now. There is nothing dull or boring about celebrating events in our schools. Schools know this is the best solution for wellbeing, catch up, avoiding the awful label of “Generation Covid” and the crucial cohesion for our communities.
We are finally learning to celebrate, appreciate the mundane and to be back together physically again.