The country went into lockdown in March, but Epsom College never did. Keyworker children attended the College for lessons, free meals and exercise. We made our Boarding Houses available to NHS staff. Our own staff, and their families, continued to live onsite and many taught their remote lessons, separately and safely, from their classrooms. The DT studio hummed with activity, as PPE was produced and distributed across Surrey, London and the South East.
The country went into lockdown, but Epsom never did
Our remote teaching won acclaim from The Times, The Telegraph and the BBC. Teachers are encouraged that pupils have made the degree of academic progress that would have been expected if the College had been fully operational.
We opened our doors a week earlier than usual in September to help pupils settle back into life at Epsom, and it was a life that none of us could have anticipated.
With one-way systems and government edicts determining our movements, masks covering our faces and guidelines seemingly changing by the day, this most irregular of terms has required a steadfastness and maturity from all members of the College community.
Finding joy in the past few months has required more effort than usual, but in my time as a Head few things have been more gratifying than the manner in which our pupils adjusted to these new strictures.
Behaviour has been exemplary, adherence to the new codes of conduct remains high and, most pleasing of all, the data indicates that effort and attainment across all year groups is at the level our Deputy Head (Academic) would have expected in a normal year. An exceptional outcome.
Behind the scenes, our support staff continue to work tirelessly to keep pupils safe, happy and well-fed. The Catering team work 24-hours-a-day throughout the term, to deliver a full menu of hot meals, endless deserts and snacks to all corners of the estate. Our grounds team labour from sunrise to sunset, sanitising goalposts, maintaining pitches, and their colleagues in facilities ensure buildings and classrooms remain spotless and Covid-free.
To date, the College has experienced only two positive cases of Covid-19. Thankfully, both asymptomatic and now fully fit and healthy.
Sadly, our neighbouring state school, Glyn School, have been dealt a harder hand and, currently, their entire Upper Sixth are having to isolate at home. I sense that we, too, may have a hard road still to travel. However, presently, the measures that we have in place, the collective judgment displayed, and the manner in which our pupils and staff have conducted themselves has taken us to half-term in a relatively strong position. Over the break we have 29 international pupils remaining in our care in boarding houses and a full programme of activities has been fashioned to ensure they enjoy a diverting experience.
As this half of the term draws to a close, I know that everyone in this community is tired, the days, the weeks and the term are long. However, we have reason to keep going, like Samwise and Frodo in The Lord of the Rings, collectively we can get the ring up the mountain. We did not ask for this task, but we have been given it, and I am hugely proud of the way everyone in this community, pupils, staff, parents and governors, are facing it.
Jay Piggot, Headmaster