After a very chilly start the sultry days of June are upon us – mercifully coming only at the end of the exams period. I can certainly remember labouring at my O Levels in oppressive heat in a school gym back in the 1970s – a cool early June spares young people this, at least. Exams are now almost over.
I was also extremely grateful for slightly cooler weather on Sunday when I and a group of other teachers (all significantly younger PE teachers!) completed the London to Brighton bike ride, in aid of the British Heart Foundation. With over 27,000 riders, the route is very crowded, but we had a good ride, and I even made it up the notorious Ditchling Beacon cycling, rather than walking (dare I say it: unlike some of my team mates!!). I was alarmed to hear on the south east news that evening that a 48 year old man had sadly died cycling up the same steep hill – I had to pinch myself to check I was still here!
The weekend did stay dry though, which was wonderful for our Duke of Edinburgh expedition – the chilly evening drove the exhausted expeditioners into their tents and cosy sleeping bags and discouraged midnight wanderings – which certainly makes life easier for the supervisors! They had a great time, and there were no mishaps at all – many thanks to all who helped out on this enormous logistical exercise, especially our parent volunteers.
It was wonderful last night to welcome the first half of our new year 7 intake to the school for their first meeting with their tutor group and tutor. Despite the heat – and possibly buoyed up by the good football news in the afternoon – all seemed very buzzy and excited to be here. The second half are coming this evening for the same induction evening. It is fantastic to see such great promise for the future.
All of this is a good counterbalance to the grim news emerging from Whitehall about the country’s apparently so perilous financial situation, and in particular the squeeze there will be on education funding. The figure of 25% spending cuts over four years is certainly one to make us all very concerned about the future – I would be the first to concede that there are savings in the system which can easily be made, and with very little direct impact on what goes on in schools – but not 25%, even if it spread over four years. We don’t know yet whether that is the figure which will be asked of schools, or whether that is just an average across a number of areas, but if it is imposed on schools, there is no way it can be implemented without impacting on numbers of teachers and class sizes. We will be watching the autumn’s more detailed information very closely.
Some of you may have picked up the news that the new Bishop of Rochester has been announced this week. Bishop James Langstaff will be moving to take over as Bishop of Rochester in a few months’ time – he is currently a bishop in Norwich, and I know that local churches are very pleased to have a successor to the last bishop in place after the long interregnum. We wish him well and will be praying for him and the diocese at this time of transition.
The weeks are still racing past – it is certainly true that when there is a lot to do, time flies!