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Monday 19 April 2010

It is always nice to come back to school after the Easter holiday, partly because the holiday is long enough for staff and students to relax and unwind properly, and partly becasue the school always looks particularly good in the spring, surrounded as it is by stunning countryside.  It is nonetheless a busy time for students and staff, with exams and study leave only a short time away. All are now involved in final preparations for these all-important examinations.

It’s proving quite a year for natural hazards.  After the hard winter and snow earlier this year, we now have clouds of volcanic ash disrupting flights.  School has run as normal today, the first day back.  We have four teachers stranded abroad, but two of these are in Europe so we are optimistic that they will get back within a few days.  It is not quite so easy from South Africa and Japan!  Two members of the non-teaching staff are also stranded – one in New York and one in Singapore. A very significant proportion of students have found themselves unable to get back – we don’t know the reasons for all absences yet, but it could be around a quarter of the student body.  We hope that many of these will be in Europe and that they will gradually make their way back with their families using ferries and other transport.  Seveal staff had trying – and expensive – journeys home from trips to Europe over the past few days.

While everyone else is no doubt finding the disruption annoying at best, our geographers have been very excited by the events in Iceland – particularly as a group of them actually visited the glacier under which the offending volcano is situated when they went to Iceland on a recent geography field trip.  It certainly brings home the importance of geography for everyday life!

As I commented in an earlier posting, the in-school election preparation is now well underway.  We have confirmed visits from the Conservative and Labour candidates for Tunbridge Wells, and are awaiting confirmation from the LibDems and Greens.  They will address the sixth form, and sixth form candidates will make their own pitches to younger students.  There will then be a full-scale election on polling day for all students, with results published before the end of that day.

Finally, all trips over Easter went well.  The ski trip to Austria was a great success, with excellent snow, and the Duke of Edinburgh expeditions to the Brecon Beacons for the Gold award also went very well indeed.  The weather was mercifully dry for the time of year.  Thank you to all staff who made these trips and activities possible.

I wish everyone a successful term, and extend good wishes for a safe return journey to anyone reading this blog from a prolonged trip abroad.