We are five weeks into the start of the academic year and it is certainly has been a beginning like no other.
I remember asking our pupils back in June what they were looking forward to the most upon returning to school, and the answers were unanimously about seeing people, their friends and teachers. I feel that we have at last regained our rhythm and it gives me great pleasure to greet pupils once again at the school gate.
So here we are again, back at school. Only for the majority of pupils at The Mount, Mill Hill International, this is their first time at this school; for many it is their first time boarding and the first time in the UK, many miles away from home.
Therefore, although it is comforting for many of us to regain our work and study routines, to come back to the familiar faces, to savour our much-cherished lunches and to be back to the comfort of our classrooms and our boarding houses, there is still a sense of excitement as we welcome our new pupils and help them settle in and become part of our community.
At the weekend, while the school was hosting a virtual Open Morning, our boarders took part in a short film competition. The winning group came up with a short clip entitled “Ten easy ways to be kind” – a heart-warming demonstration of how this group of girls in Burton Bank Boarding House focused on kindness in their simple daily interactions.
The Saturday activities held at the boarding houses this term have been great ways to get to know each other and also the local area, as we explored the beautiful Totteridge Valley on a long walk on a delightfully warm late summer morning in September.
At school we have been busy delivering lessons both to those pupils who are here in the classrooms but also to those who are learning remotely. We have installed in each classroom a camera and a microphone in order that the pupil who is learning online can ‘enter’ the classroom virtually, thereby engaging not only with the teacher but also the other pupils present in the classroom.
In addition, as part of our Digital Strategy, each pupil now has their own iPad; e-books have replaced textbooks and work is stored and sent electronically rather than in exercise books.
The new way of working has enthused both staff and pupils alike. There is innovation in the classroom; the collaboration between staff and pupils – whether physically present or remote – is dynamic and we can already see the benefits in pupils as autonomous learners and the level of engagement is exciting to witness.
It’s great to be back!