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Thoughts from Claire Lilley

06 April 2020

As we draw to the end of the Spring term we find ourselves with an ending that nobody could have anticipated. An end full of silence in school, not an end full of Easter bonnets, laughter and egg hunts as we had planned, but nevertheless an end. The school site looks beautiful with a spectacular magnolia in full bloom and shoots of other new life emerging.

I say ‘an end full of silence’ but at 9am each morning, a team of staff supporting the key workers have been anything but silent, as we leap up and down following Joe Wick’s daily workouts. The children have been much more ‘flexible’ shall we say, than the adults and Mr Woods and I have discovered muscles we didn’t even know existed! Thank goodness for the comfort of a hot bath at the end of the day to ease those newly found muscles!

It has been wonderful to receive some fabulous pictures of the girls as they have undertaken their guided home learning tasks. Science experiments taking place in kitchens, nature inspired art from gardens or daily walks, dressing up as Tudors, singing, dancing paper making …. the list is endless. The breadth of learning being tackled in a totally new way, has been truly inspiring. The teachers have been amazing and so dedicated to ensure they can deliver the best learning opportunities for the girls. I am proud to lead such a committed team and I thank each and every one of them for their efforts.

For me, this week has been a time of true reflection. I found myself, for the first time, with a weekend with nowhere specific I had to be, no child to be transporting somewhere and no demands on every moment of my time. I was given permission to do things that I had put aside for quite some time. Time to play my musical instruments, which had often taken second place to the demands of other aspects of life. It was a time to press pause, to appreciate the small things, to be thankful for family, notice things in the garden or whilst out walking the dog – to take some time. I hope that as a society, we will use this time to revaluate what really matters in life.

As many of you know I joined the RHS from a Quaker School and Quakers are very good at making time to stop and allow time for mindfulness activities. I have tried to keep up the practice of ‘pausing’, but I must admit that the last couple of weeks and the constantly evolving picture has made it a challenge to give myself permission to do that, but it is so important – more so than ever. News reports are full of tales of sadness, people quick to point the finger at others for ‘not being quick enough’, ‘not being prepared enough’, ‘not heeding warning signs’, ‘not doing the right thing’. I am minded of a passage from Quaker Faith and Practice which says ‘Art thou in Darkness? Mind it not, for if thou dost it will fill thee more, but stand still and act not, and wait in patience till Light arises out of Darkness to lead thee.’ Good advice that we would do well to heed. Do not to worry, re engage with what is important, and wait until such time as the light shines to lead us to a new tomorrow. Have a fabulous Easter break and I hope the sun will shine on us not just metaphorically, but in reality too.

Claire Lilley, Head of Prep School

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