Many teachers, staff and parents have worked hard to ensure a good enough school-ending for our Year 6 primary school children. They have grown through school gathering expectations of what happens when the year 6s leave – the noisy celebrations of the ‘big kids’ enjoying the leavers parties and the formal goodbyes at school assemblies. And yet, with the disruption of the pandemic it is impossible to offer this year’s children the normal celebrations.
My own daughter looked forward to secondary school as a space to be herself. I was anticipating the ‘jolt’ as she changed gear to meet the new speed and expectations of the secondary school system but to our good fortune, her secondary school gathered her in. They met her with compassion and empowered her with new responsibilities and possibilities. She landed safely and successfully.
My daughter is descended from a line of successful losses. Her great grandmother survived the Spanish Flu which took her mother and unborn sibling. And whilst the loss of her mother left her mute for some of her early childhood, this grandmother recovered her voice sufficiently to graduate as one of the first women with an English degree at Oxford University (back in the times when not everyone was able to graduate).
I hope my daughter continues to speak of her losses – missing daily chats to school friends and the rhythm of the school day – those things that anchored her in a familiar, safe pattern to learn and grow and which are temporarily lost. Together, we will mark the end of this most unusual of school terms with the Big School Bell. We will stand on our front doorstep with something to represent what she celebrates from year 7. It’s our chance to acknowledge what she has achieved this year, to feel our gratitude for those who have supported her and to recognise what she’s missed so that she can start to let go into a new strange future. She will need to travel light; there is so much ‘new normal’ for our future generations to experience and to shape.
Join the national celebration!
Join in the Big School Bell for a national moment of recognition to mark the school year-end for the nation’s children