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Leadership Likes: Mrs Cook

On behalf of me and the cherry trees, well done…

This is absolutely, undoubtedly, my favourite time of year.The onset of Spring brings with it so much hope and promise and nature seems to reflect this perfectly, with cheery daffodils and tulips, lambs appearing in the fields and blossom appearing on the trees. It’s hard not to feel uplifted.

Of course, this year, those feelings are magnified with the tantalising prospect of some degree of normality and freedom returning, even if that is just sitting on a bench with a coffee and one other person, or (joy of joys) a pub garden lunch!

On Tuesday 23 March, we marked the one year anniversary of the first National Lockdown. In school, we took time to reflect on all that has happened over the last year, mindful that for so many people, lives have changed irreparably.

I think that had we known on the 23 March 2020 that, one year on, we would still be experiencing such challenges and restrictions, whilst also grieving the loss of over 125,000 deaths in the UK alone, it might have been hard to hold on to much hope at all. But, perhaps fortunately, we had no option other than to go with it and much like in the natural world surrounding us, trust that the circle of life would continue and that green shoots would eventually appear.

Tree Planting Easter 2012

I particularly love seeing, as I turn in to the school each morning, the buds on the two blossom trees by the gates as they gradually turn in to the most beautiful shade of pink. And then, as I drive up towards Senior Reception, admire the parade of apple blossom trees that line the Junior school grounds. When they are in full bloom, it’s a truly celebratory sight. The trees at the front of the school were planted back in 2012 to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, in a project led by a previous Assistant Head. She always said she wanted the school to be known as ‘ the one with the beautiful blossom trees outside.’ I often wonder if anyone describes us as this; I think, perhaps, we need to plant a few more!

However, having spent time over the last few weeks reading countless emails from parents who have applied to the school, for  both senior and junior places, I am very proud of the fact that what we are actually known as, is being the school with the warmest welcome and the most efficient processes. We are recognised as the school with impressive leadership and dedicated, inspiring teaching staff, of beautiful grounds, innovative ideas and above all, simply incredible pupils who are universally acknowledged as outstanding role models.

To have retained – and enhanced – this reputation during a year of such challenge speaks volumes, I think, about our school community. And I also think we all deserve a large and collective pat on the back – observing strict social distancing guidelines, of course.

Going back to the blossom trees, there is a song that I play loudly in my car on spring mornings (much to the despair of my kids when I used to drive them to school, I might say). It is certainly not as ‘cool’ a musical reference as Mr King shared in last week’s Leadership Likes …but hey, we can’t all be cool, all the time!  It was written by an Irish folk artist, John Spillane, who hails from my family’s hometown of Cork, and for me it sums up the feelings I experience every year, but especially so this year. Called ‘The Dance of the Cherry Trees’ the theme is that every April, the cherry blossom trees seem to be dancing for joy, as they celebrate the fact that we have gone full circle and come through another year.

Let me tell you ’bout the cherry trees

Every April in our town

They put on the most outrageous clothes

And they sing and they dance around.

And they seem to be saying, to me anyway;
“You know we’ve travelled all around the Sun
You know it’s taken us one whole year
Well done everyone, Well Done”

I think of this every time I look at the dancing cherry trees, and this year, as I appreciate the turn of the seasons, I will also be appreciating the courage and determination that has brought us through the last 12 months and that will surely see us safely in to the next. Well done, everyone.

And for those of you who like a bit of Irish folk music,

Mrs Cook

Director of External Relations

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