Following a half term break of two distinct meteorological halves, Principal Louise North addressed pupils during the first Chapel of the new half term. She used her address to welcome pupils back to remote learning and react to the news that pupils will return to full attendance at Framlingham College Prep and Senior Schools from 8th March.

Good morning and welcome back.

I don’t know about you, but I was very happy when I heard the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday. I felt a mixture of emotions, ranging from impatience – hurry up PM and get to the point! to relief, when he said that all pupils would be coming back to school on 8 March. All of you, that is. After the long haul from January, another two weeks feels like a walk in the park.

January is renowned to be a difficult month for many people at the best of times and this year, the first half of this term has felt relentless: the post-Christmas blues, the dark mornings and afternoons that seemed to close us in even more, the prospect of week after week of lockdown, the dreadfully sad news reports from hospitals, the spikey Covid-19 graphs, the family zoom calls which connect us but also underline our separation, poking a COVID testing stick up our nose becoming a normal part of our routine, masks hiding our reactions and emotions and even turning into a fashion accessory, scenes of people queuing for vaccinations….

And there lies the magic word: ‘vaccination!’ And another set of charts has started to appear, showing us how many people have received their vaccination. And this time, the graphs are not spikey, they are going in one direction only as more and more people get their jab and take a step towards being protected from this horrible virus.

At half-term I am sure that you, like me, got outside and went for a walk or two. And I am sure that you will have noticed, as I did, that there was a shift mid-way through the week, once that wonderful snow had gone, and shoots started to appear, as snow drops, crocuses, daffodils begin to poke their way out of the earth. The birds in my garden are becoming noisier and busier than ever as they swoop and swirl around my bird table, dodging the very large and greedy pigeons as they do so. All sure signs that Spring is on its way.

So it feels like there is a synergy, a positive momentum that is now unstoppable, as the earth itself is opening up again for Spring at the same time as our freedoms are gradually opening up again, and in our case, the doors to the College are opening again for you.

I have said before that you breathe life into these buildings, and I have felt your absence this time even more than I did last summer. Every morning I say good morning to Albert, every morning I open up the front door, as a sign that we are open, that I wish you were here and that we will be back together again soon.

I can’t wait to welcome you back, to hear your chatter and conversation on the corridors, in the classroom, in the dining room and in House. I have missed the elephant like footsteps of Rendlesham boys above my study and the smell of toast coming out of Stradbroke at breaktime. I am looking forward to having you back in chapel, to having music punctuate the day whether in the music school or in a concert, the eerie silence of the leisure centre and the astros needs to be broken by your energy and laughter. In brief, the school is just a set of buildings without you in them. This is where we need to be, together, purposeful, supportive, present.

As I said in my email yesterday, stay focused on 8 March, keep working hard, stay patient with your family, be grateful for what you have and get ready to come back to fulfil your ambitions and to create your own story.

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