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End of year reflections

I have been reflecting on what has been a challenging but also an inspiring year.

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As we reach the end of the Autumn Term and almost the end of 2021, I have been reflecting on what has been a challenging but also an inspiring year.

Looking back to the start of the year in January 2021 when, after opening for one day, the third lockdown was immediately announced, now seems a lifetime ago. On hearing we would again need to close on-site learning to the majority of our pupils and that examinations would be cancelled for the second year, I must admit to writing to our parents at that point with a very heavy heart.

However, I was once again amazed by the commitment and hard work of the students and our staff in returning to robust remote learning at such short notice. I was inspired both by the staff's desire to provide the pupils with the best possible on-going education and by the girls' desire to continue to learn. I was also grateful for the support of our parents, both to the School and in supporting their daughter's learning. Staff also continued to attend School throughout to provide education to those attending as key worker children.

It was fantastic to welcome all girls back into School on 8 March with staff once again stepping up: this time to support the on-site testing of all Senior girls on their return. By this point, the vaccine programme was gathering pace and staff were becoming vaccinated. Restrictions on gatherings meant we were unable to return to on-site events during the Summer Term. However, we continued to involve parents virtually, where possible, working creatively to run a Virtual Junior Open Event and to showcase the girls work in our filmed Expressive Arts Charity Concert, as well as moving Parents' Evenings online - one positive development from the pandemic which parents in the Senior School have requested we continue.

The lifting of restrictions in July gave us all hope for a return to 'normal' for the Autumn Term and we began, over the summer, to plan to reintroduce further extracurricular activities, alongside on-site events.

Welcoming the girls back to School for the Autumn Term in September was a real joy. It was lovely to see so many parents back in School. The Parent/Daughter Tennis and Badminton tournaments were a huge success. We have continued to offer hybrid events for Open Morning and for Sixth Form Subject Information Evening. Moving towards Christmas we have been able to open our doors for parents to watch Year 6 decorate the Christmas tree and for the Nativity, Christingle and Carol Service. The girls have loved performing for their parents and we have enjoyed engaging in person with our LHS families.

As we come to the end of term and a new phase of the pandemic, I would like to once again express my gratitude to our staff, our parents and, most of all, our students who always make me proud to be the Headmaster of this unique community. I am confident of our ability to manage whatever 2022 may bring with resilience, adaptability and good humour.

Mr Alan Whelpdale