Dear members of the Earlscliffe community,
To both new and older members of the community, I send my best wishes.
I will be writing to you regularly with thoughts and updates from the Earlscliffe community. This is my first letter of this academic year.
It is too easy to say that a particular day is a day we will remember for the rest of our lives; but I am sure we can all say, with hand on heart, that yesterday was such a day.
I had the pleasure of spending the better part of the day yesterday running group interviews, getting to know those of our new students who had arrived. We found out about each other, played games, chatted and laughed. We broke some of the ice that exists on meeting new people and started to form those bonds that will help us through the challenges of this school year. We had fun. As the day ended, I was sitting with colleagues, agreeing on the last few details of the new student trips that should have taken place today and tomorrow, when my colleague Victor came in with the news that Her Majesty had passed away. We tried to carry on for a bit, but then reality intervened, and we sat, and reflected.
When I met all of the students, new and old, and my colleagues first thing this morning to think about the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, it was in a much more profound mood. Our context at Earlscliffe is very particular and special. While some of us were born and brought up in the United Kingdom, some had arrived in this country only hours before. How then, to cover the range of experience and understanding that we have? I spoke about how a person can embody a nation, and how, when you imagine Great Britain in the person of an individual, that person is Her Majesty. I spoke about her steadfastness through seventy years of service, treading the line of her constitutional responsibility with grace and wisdom. We considered how such a monarch, with no political power, still has enormous authority, and indeed meets with our Prime Minister every week to question, encourage, advise and support. One of her last public acts was to farewell and appoint our outgoing and incoming Prime Ministers earlier this week. She came to the throne at the age of 25, and the first of her 15 Prime Ministers was a chap by the name of Churchill. Imagine taking that meeting – with a man of such stature and gravitas. I spoke about how she endured the kind of scrutiny under which many crumble, and endured it, throughout her reign, with never a false step, leading with grace and courage in adversity. I told an anecdote about her sense of humour and fun, and praised her dignity and steadfastness through it all. As the founder and Chairman of Dukes Education, Aatif Hassan said: “The Queen was virtuous, caring, dedicated and a devoted leader. She was steadfast, wise and graceful. For many of us, an inspiration and extraordinary role model. She gave her life in service to us all.”
I sometimes talk about what ‘a life well lived’ means to our students. What an example Her Majesty was.
As we mark this period of national mourning, co-curricular activities and events will be curtailed, as we focus on the key matters of learning and teaching, and reflect on a life well lived indeed.
With my very best wishes to you all,
Joss Williams, Head Teacher