Extraordinary, unprecedented, unbelievable, unparalleled, remarkable and just plain weird. All ways that I have heard the Global Pandemic and resultant restrictions referred to in the last few weeks. I find myself in my second week of isolation with my own family watching the world from out of the window and on our television, wondering what it is really like outside our four walls. It almost feels like being part of a dystopian Hollywood blockbuster, without the ability to switch channels.
What I have learnt from my remote stance is that despite the grief and despair, that is oozing from every news broadcast and radio talk show, there is hope and positivity travelling alongside. British resolve or human tenacity call it what you will. I am lucky to be surrounded by resilient people that will continue you forward even through the worst times. Positive messages from parents, fantastic attitudes from my staff and true grit against adversity for all those ‘key workers’ and emergency services that are supporting so many at such a difficult time.
I thank all my staff that are showing such bravery to continue offering a service of care, warmth and learning for those children that desperately need our support, so that their parents may work serving others. I have now spoken to over 50 parents on the telephone personally and I was thankful that many of them were able to put others before themselves, so that the parents in more desperate need of assistance could receive it. Parents that have also helped to support my own family at a difficult time. I am truly humbled and thankful to all that have contacted me personally.
As I told the boys in my video to them this week, never before have we been tested in such a way and never before have we needed values such as those demonstrated in the ‘Cumnor Way, so much. Compassion, courage, belief, endeavour and integrity are the core values we shall all need to continue through the tough times and to emerge positively on the other side.
It is perfectly acceptable and normal for many of us to feel anxious, scared and worried about the future. We are lucky to be part of a community that will support each other, if you are not physically close to your family at this point, we are blessed with the technology that can keep us connected. Use it, let the boys use it and encourage them to catch up with their friends.
Many parents have been in contact with the school regarding Firefly and the difficulty we have had in the first days of remote learning, alternative methods have been actioned to share the high quality learning our teachers have prepared. Please have patience, this is new to everyone and I believe Firefly never predicted the volumes of traffic they would be encountering, they will adapt like us all. In the meantime use this time to reconnect with your families, work with them, play with them, laugh and cry with them. Above all, enjoy them!
As Headmaster of 480 children and over 100 staff you can imagine the many questions I am asked daily at this time. Often questions without answers and problems with no clear solution. It is difficult but I have a good team and loving family around me, and from them I draw strength. For some reason I keep reflecting on Kipling’s poem ‘IF…’, I have included it below for some light relief and may be a lesson or two for our children.
These are truly challenging times, please remember; how we act now will be etched in the memories and actions of our children for years to come. Show strength and sensitivity for those around you and wherever possible demonstrate to your children the ‘Cumnor Way’.
Stay safe and look after your families, best wishes
Mr Daniel Cummings
IF BY RUDYARD KIPLING
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!