Over the years there have been various attempts to restructure the school year which, let’s be honest, still does reflect the old ‘farming season’ of autumn to summer. None has really taken off, for the good reason that in the winter we tend to spend more time indoors (which suits classroom learning) and in the summer we probably instinctively like our long holidays. The one thing which has taken off in some schools is the longer autumn half term, two weeks for us, and I hope everyone has enjoyed, and benefited from it. Of course it’s a big break, but it does allow for a proper rest before the activities running up to Christmas, it allows for some work without making it all a chore, and it allows for exciting trips.
This time we had trips to Valencia, Urawa and Beijing for linguists, CERN for scientists, Australia for the cricketers, Iceland for geographers, Holland for hockey players, Sicily for classicists, Morocco for DofE, to Berlin for historians, to New York for culture and in the case of myself, Mr Ellis, Mrs Baxter and Mr Chaloner, to Hong Kong to meet current and future parents, and alumni. Thank you to all those who took trips, the above list surely a tribute to one of the best programmes of trips any school can have. Despite the considerable regulation and organisation required, they are still undeniably worth it, a transformative experience for many pupils and indeed staff.
My first visit to Hong Kong thrilled and fascinated me, for all the obvious reasons you will know about if you’ve been there. My Cantonese may have only made very tentative progress (from nil to a hesitant greeting) but the welcome was very warm, from none more so than the alumni who gathered one evening with us. Some of course are there through work, mainly though not exclusively finance; others, after what has now been six years of boarding, are Hong Kong citizens themselves. It’s trite to talk about globalisation sometimes, but sharing memories of South London in Asia is both a moving and exciting experience. For some alumni this meeting (the day of the opening of the bridge to Macau) was the first time they had got together across generations, and the link they all felt with Whitgift was palpable. Building bridges indeed!
Have a good second half of term.