A message from a headmaster to his pupils
We are living through incredible times. So much so, that our schools have closed to nearly all of their pupils without any of us knowing when we will meet again. Here are twelve pieces of advice from me, a headmaster, to you, my pupils, for you to take away and hold onto during the tumultuous months ahead.
- Look after yourselves. Wash your hands; be clean; remember the importance of social distancing and follow government advice. When you wash your hands, apparently singing ‘Happy Birthday’ or ‘God Save the Queen’ helps. If you want to get them really clean, sing ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’.
- Work hard. Even though you are not in school physically, you may be able to access your lessons online. You may be anxious and worried. Don’t be: just work hard. Everyone is in the same boat. For those in Year 11 and 13, if I had just heard that my exams had been cancelled, at first I would have thought ‘Cha-ching!’; then, I would have been disappointed and deflated; then I would become quite anxious and worried and uncertain; but now I need to think ‘Here we go’. Because if you work hard at all you have been set, you’ll be providing the evidence for predicted grades which I imagine your exams will now be assessed on. Don’t waste time, work hard.
- Make sure you have a routine. Get out of bed early, get washed, get changed, and try and follow your normal school day as best as you can. Have some exercise. Don’t just be lazy and go stale, have a routine.
- Keep in touch. Keep in touch with your teachers via email. Don’t go where we can’t find you or go to ground. We want you to know that we are just at the other end of an email, or maybe in some cases at the other end of a phone.
- Show compassion. Compassion is an important Christian value and I cannot think of a better time to show compassion. Help people – maybe your Grandparents. You won’t be able to see them for a long time so send them messages, do practical things to help them. There will be old people where you live, maybe you can do some shopping for them. Just think of practical ways that you can be kind and show compassion.
- Build, strengthen, and repair relationships with your family, because you are going to spend an awful lot of time with them. Maybe you have got brothers and sisters you don’t get on with, maybe you’ve been hard work for Mum and Dad, but over the next few weeks and months, build relationships, strengthen relationships and put things right. You could come back to school saying, ‘My family life is so much better, we get on so much better, we spent so much time together.’ Be good boys; Mum and Dad are probably going to have tough times ahead, they are going to be worried and anxious, so be good for them. Do the right thing.
- Be resilient. I am sure, like me, you’ve felt an energy and a buzz in recent days. But as the weeks and the months go on there will be times when it will get harder and harder, and you must be resilient. You have got to dig in, and keep going.
- Hold your nerve. There will be lots of people saying lots of things – lots of worrying things – and people will be anxious about what might happen. Rudyard Kipling said this, ‘If you can keep your head, while all around are losing theirs, you’ll be a man my son’. Hold your nerve.
- Be brave. I am sure, like me, there might be times over the next few days and weeks where you will be a bit scared, but be brave, show courage.
- Ask for help. The bravest word a child can sometimes say is ‘Help’. If you are on your own, or if you are struggling, and finding it hard, send an email to your teacher and say ‘Sir, I need some help.’ They can make sure that the right people can give you that help. Don’t be frightened to ask for help.
- Think. Think about all the things you have heard your teachers say, and all that I have said and consider them all. You will have lots of thinking time ahead.
- Be thankful. These are tough times, but we have still got so many things to be thankful for. While many pupils have not been able to come to school, your teachers have come in and looked after you. Even those who are ill and at home have sent work in for you.
Let me end by giving you some advice which is not my advice at all, it is actually found in the Bible, in Psalm 121.
I lift my eyes to the hills, from where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and Earth. He will not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you, will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel, will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper, the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil, He will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out, and your coming in, from this time forth and forevermore.
Look after yourselves. Work hard. Have a routine. Keep in touch. Show compassion. Build, strengthen, and repair relationships with your family. Be resilient. Hold your nerve. Be brave. Ask for help. Think. Be thankful, and look to God.
Take care, and I look forward to seeing you on the other side