Hello - I hope you're all keeping safe and well.
This weekend should have been The Glastonbury Festival - a totally unique event in the global music calendar that has attracted millions of music-lovers in its 50 year history. This, like so many other public events however, had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving avid festival goers nowhere to go. When it was clear the event would not take place, someone somewhere came up with the idea of 'Glasthomebury' - a festival we could hold in our gardens - and the BBC quickly made it happen with streaming of the best Glastonbury sets on TV and radio from Friday to Sunday. As a musician and a music lover, I'm a little ashamed to say that I've never been to Glastonbury so this idea seemed brilliant. It also happened to fall on the same weekend as the Ely College Prom where my daughter and all of her peers should have been celebrating the end of exams and the end of an era. It was a quick decision to make Glasthomebury happen at our home and, in our social bubble, we put on a show for my daughter and her lifelong friend. A tent was pitched (obligatory), a VIP area (no adults allowed) created, tattoo and craft stalls put up and the garden was filled with games and challenges like hook-a-duck and tin can alley. Then at 10pm we toasted the girls - for all they have achieved and for their adventures ahead. It didn't replace the Prom, we know that, but it was great to see them smiling and I'm sure all of you with children the same age will have done something similar. I'm sure our local will schools give their Year 11 the send off they deserve when it's safe to do so. It's a rite of passage that so many of them were looking forward to so much.
On the sporting front, it has been fantastic to see so many sports start to resume. Football took centre stage this week with Liverpool finally capturing the Premier League title after Chelsea beat Manchester City. Congratulations to them - they are a fantastic squad with a fantastic manager and they thoroughly deserve the title this year. The waiting must have been agonising especially with the title all but won when lockdown started. Then the debate on whether to finish the season and then planning how it would resume. Then they had to get fit and get mentally ready to win it and they did. That must have been so satisfying - to come out from a lockdown and perform in almost exactly the same way as they were before it. It takes massive amounts of focus and determination and resilience and they have got those bucketloads. I can see Mr Tatham, a lifelong Liverpool fan, using the title winners to inspire our students in assemblies next term and why not. Liverpool displayed all the characteristics we aim to nurture in our students and they are an example to us all.
Other sports have recently resumed too: golf, tennis, horse-racing and cricket and hopefully others will follow soon. These sports, and football of course, mean something special to millions of people across the world. They connect with the players, they feel their joy and their pain. They share their passion and their disappointment and live out the drama of every moment and it is this collective sharing and connection that makes sport so special. There have been weeks without sport and I know this has seriously affected some people - something has been missing from their lives. It's my view that the world is a better place when you play or watch the sports you love and I welcome the restart of all sports over the coming weeks and months.
At LECA most of you know how much we love the Arts and Sports, somewhat in conflict with the stance that many other schools have taken in recent years. We know that employers and colleges look for creativity and innovation when they shortlist candidates and that is why the Arts and Sport are so important to us. Not only this but the Arts and Sport are proven to improve mental health and wellbeing so their impact on our students is vital. We live in a busy world in busy households so taking time out to play music, create art or play sports is vital. Of course the 'traditional' class-based subjects are equally important so it's never about doing one and not the other - it's about balance and equilibrium and slowly but surely we are returning to that state, albeit cautiously. My advice to all our students and our rising Year 7s is to make a commitment to enrich your lives in September. Pick up a musical instrument and maybe even sign up for some lessons (we can help with that). Go to a club after school; push yourself to get into a school sports team. The benefits are too many to mention and we promise you won't regret it.
Head of School, LECA