At a time when we marvel at the virtuosity of playwright and author Alan Bennett, while we titter at the linguistic limitations of the Talking Head who purports to be Leader of the Free World, and we rejoice in a downturn in the virus, it’s time for some really good news. The sale of books is on the up and up.

Perhaps because we have been cabin’d, cribbed and confined for more than three months, denied ‘normal’ TV and sport and needing to make do with our own company, the nation has discovered that being engrossed in a book is one of life’s richest pleasures.

As children start to learn to read at school, Mums and Dads play such an important role in helping to keep them interested in books. By finding out what interests them, helping them to find stories that will be engaging and fun, and spending time reading to them, parents give their offspring an inestimable educational boost. 

Great though it is to have the majority of the children back in school with us, the effects of coronavirus on our national culture is yet to be fully assessed.

Because of continued social distancing, it is hard to conceive of a trip to the theatre or the concert hall in the near future. Perhaps we take too much for granted the glory of the RSC at Stratford and provincial theatre generally. How much the poorer would we be as a nation were we unable to listen to the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, whose very future must be in some doubt.

Books, though, resist all infection. They lift the spirit, too. Fiction and non-fiction alike remain the very lifeblood of education, promoting and developing the power of communication; providing us with knowledge; transporting us wherever we want to go in our imaginations. So, as part of next week’s Update, I am adding a list of  30 books – some old, some new –  that Blue Coat children might enjoy.

Yes, we have come out of ‘hibernation’, to use Boris Johnson’s image, but I heartily recommend that all our boys and girls spend time this summer nibbling lettuce with Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot, down the rabbit hole with Alice, or in a Chocolate Factory with Charlie.

The capacity of young boys and girls to be absorbed in books one moment and socially alive the next is a wonder. And, reverting to the orchestral theme, hearing the children chatting and playing this week has been music to my ears. It is a privilege to have them back, and a testimony to the confidence that parents have in us. I must thank our parents for their unwavering support to the School. We have all been touched by the messages of support and gratitude.

My assembly this week focused on being thankful. We – and I include myself – sometimes don’t say thank you enough or show gratitude for what we have. Family, books, music, theatre, food, drama, film, seaside holidays – even the tonic of a haircut!

On that note, I have so many thank yous! 

*The staff, who produced an outstanding Distance Learning programme and who have really gone above and beyond with the teaching here and with their pastoral care of the children. I cannot commend them highly enough.

*The children themselves, for showing remarkable resilience – gritting their teeth and battling bravely on.

*The Grounds and Maintenance team, for working tirelessly to prepare the school for one of many eventualities.

*The Marketing team, for feeding us with timely weekly communications.

*The Catering team, for feeding ‘the bubbles’ and the staff.

*The finance and admissions and admin team, for ‘mucking in’ and being so flexible in response to all that we have asked.

We as a community have come a long way, but I urge you not to become complacent. The following five simple steps are designed to keep you, your children and our school community safe.

  • Do not bring your children to school if any member of your household is unwell.
  • Remember the importance of washing hands before coming into the classroom.
  • Keep in mind social distance at government- required lengths.
  • Drop-off to by one parent only – and please leave the site quickly
  • Do not enter any buildings – contact staff through emails and they will respond asap.

Please heed these steps. This will help us to keep BCS a COVID free site.

Your cooperation and support has been greatly appreciated.

Have a lovely weekend!

Mr Noel Neeson