Last day of term and we are now one working day away from the start of the next school year. This is the point at which DfE announce an unfunded pay rise, of course. 2.75% from existing budgets, as if we have it just hanging around unallocated. Disgracefully cynical timing. Now the budget needs rewriting before September.
Of course, being one working day away from September 2nd only works for children – and not all of them. A level results day in August followed by GCSE and post-16 admissions. There’s a huge amount gets done over the holidays, but the non-existent time between now and then is also important as a gap, a space for assimilation and reflection, for resolution and just forgetting.
But before that, how does term end? With an Art Exhibition that’s simply perfect. Images in paint, photography, textiles, sculpture, digital media of a breathtaking quality. As I go around the Biennale in Venice in August I’ll inevitably harrumph at my partner as to the superiority of the Tallis product.
With a piano recital where The Instrument is celebrated among superb performers of all kinds and the new Tallis Orchestra. Top quality, and I’m moved to remark, seeing Tallis’ name high on the hall walls, how pleased he would have been that some of our young folk will go on make a living out of music as he did so successfully, in times more turbulent than even our own.
With Governors discussing strategy on Saturday morning, recommitting themselves to the school’s story of education to understand the world and change it for the better, and opposing all that would dehumanise us.
With Moon Day celebrating the anniversary of the landing – rockets, poetry, music and the much-trailed Spudnik finally managing to fire potatoes, moon songs on the tannoy at lesson change and live moon music on the concourse as the children leave us, a new song performed by Science and Music.
With a Climate Change Crisis demonstration on the grass, organised by sixth form so that the younger ones have a chance to protest safely in school. The wisely noted the hypocrisy: a barbecue for year 9 rewards, and another for the staff leavers, at the same time. ‘That’s hypocrisy Miss’. ‘Yes but if you were demonstrating in town there’d still be buses and tubes running’ ‘Yes but can we riot?’ ‘No’.
With a leaver playing himself out on the guitar, surrounded by staff art.
With year group celebration assemblies, four in a row, awarding excellence, character, habits, sports, and the most library books borrowed. An outbreak of rhyming couplets from staff.
With a final whole-school assembly for everyone, words about spending time, about the right way to live and, most of all, about staying safe and coming back. With luck, time will allow us all to become better than we are, to understand and change the world for the better.
I signed off the year with this in 2014, teacher Charles Causley’s words:
At 4 o’clock the building enters harbour
All day it seems that we have been at sea
Now having lurched through the last of the water
We lie stone-safe beside the jumping quay.
Causley talks about ‘a squabble of children’ wandering off, a lovely image. I’ve just watched ours go, from under the shelter of my Tallis umbrella, some with a bounce and a spring in their step, some filled with dread for the long weeks without the safety of school. Safe home, safe return.
And after that? The place will be clean, ready and open for the training days in September and on Wednesday 4th our children return to us. We will be utterly changed but absolutely the same. It’s a glorious privilege.