Despite the frenetic pace that is always Term 1 at Carey, this term has also seemed a little never-ending. I know that we have all heard the plane analogy when it comes to referencing a journey or a new adventure; so please, bear with me, whilst I use this seemingly trite metaphor in reference to this term.
Instead of a plane taking off, however, I ask you to think of a plane taxiing towards the terminal – that is the analogy I wish to draw between a ‘typical Term 1’ and a ‘post-COVID Term 1’. A taxiing plane gets to the terminal in what feels like a reasonable amount of time; the seat belt sign pings off, you gather your half-read newspaper and water bottle, anticipating the feeling of unfolding yourself from your window-seat, and this all takes place in a matter of minutes. This term’s taxiing aircraft, however, feels nothing like that. It feels as though the terminal is nowhere in sight, there are potholes in the tarmac, the baby behind you has started crying, everyone stands up to get their luggage at the same time and the queue seems infinite.
As we near the end of our first term of 2021 – and even though it was not without a slight nudge from ‘old mate COVID’ to remind us that it is still around – for the most part, we have all been running a million miles an hour, basking in our capacity to live a relatively ‘normal’ life again. Sport has been in full swing, as have various co-curricular, music and House activities in Middle School. The Year 7s have enjoyed their Toona experience and everyone is remembering how to be around others outside of their families for extended periods of time. In terms of wellbeing, however, we know that some of our students have really struggled at times. One of the most significant issues we have been working with our students on is to do with positive relationships and social interactions – with their friends and with their peers across the community. One of our aims this term has been to encourage our students to really think about what is ‘right’ when it comes to the treatment of others.
We have rolled out some robust and engaging content through House which has looked at topics such as how to make the right friends, how to be a good friend, what to do when you would like to move friendship groups, and how to have tricky conversations with your peers. We have had engaging and thought-provoking assemblies in which we have celebrated International Women’s Day, recognised the cultural diversity that exists at Carey, as well as focussing on inclusion and respectful relationships. We feel strongly about the power that lies in coming together as a Middle School for students to hear from a range of staff and their peers about their own experiences. We do hope that your young person has shared with you some of what has been addressed this term, as having those incidental conversations at home can be an effective way for them to consolidate their thoughts and feelings.
No matter which way you look at it, this term has felt long. The students and staff are tired, and some are genuinely grappling with shifts in friendship groups, their sense of self, or new ways of learning. Maybe this is because we are still recovering from a prolonged absence from school. The best thing you can do, as parents, is to listen. Shoot some hoops with your child, bake a cake, watch a silly TV show, or go for a walk together – whatever activity allows for you to be side-by-side with your young person, and that gives them permission and the space to talk with you and share what is on their minds. The power of being present and open to conversation is profound, and a great way for you to connect with one another.
It has definitely been quite a term, and I know we are all really looking forward to the holiday break where eating too many hot cross buns and chocolate eggs will be the most worrying thing on our radar. The terminal is most definitely within reach and we are clutching our carry-on luggage, very much ready for the down-time that awaits when we disembark the aircraft!
Deputy Head of Middle School – Student Wellbeing