Head of West Sussex school looks ahead to year of ‘opportunity, excitement and adventure’

The head of a West Sussex school has said the new academic year brings ‘opportunity, excitement and adventure’.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 3:57 pm

Ben Evans of independent prep school, Windlesham House, has shared his hopes and fears for the new school year, one week into the new term.

After 18 months of bubbles and restrictions, the optimistic head believes this new school year has never been so welcome and so needed as the promise of a ‘return to normality’ takes shape.

Mr Evans said: “A new year always brings opportunity, excitement and adventure, but for school communities everywhere, this new term will also mean so much more. It will be a chance to make up for lost time, to enjoy missed opportunities and to recapture the special nature of our schools. As head teachers, the most difficult times have been those when we were forced to close our schools or send year groups home to isolate.

Ben Evans, headteacher of Windlesham House

Schools, by their very natures, are close knit communities built on strong relationships and we have used the summer holidays to make improvements, enhance facilities and prepare for our school to become a busy, happy and noisy place again.”

The school said it is confident that September represents an opportunity to start afresh with much-needed positivity and excitement. Mr Evans also confirmed that the school calendar is bursting with events for 2021/22, with whole school assemblies, concerts, drama productions and so much more. Parents will again be an essential part of the school community working with the school in partnership to achieve the best results. Sports fixtures, including match teas, school trips and visits are all back on the agenda.

Mr Evans added: “Most importantly, children will socialise normally again, mix freely and grow and develop naturally. Wellbeing will be a priority and a healthy balance must be achieved between academic work, sport, music, drama and free time.

“Children’s mental health will begin to improve and so many anxieties and worries of the past 18 months will hopefully disappear or at least reduce.”

Yet Mr Evans is not ruling out the possibility of more changes in the near future and even the return of some restrictions as the winter months set in.

He said: “I am sure that I speak for many other heads when I say that there is so much of school life and our routines that will never again be taken for granted.

“There is of course, every possibility that the return of schools will lead to an increase of COVID cases which will impact our ‘return to normality’.

“Whilst the regulations on isolation have been relaxed, any COVID cases will impact on the ability for schools to operate normal staffing levels and may impact the general anxiety of pupils, parents and staff.

“It is clear that some schools are considering reintroducing bubbles and other precautions which were in place last year. Given the probability that the autumn/winter months will allow the virus to spread, this could become reality in all schools again.”