I understand entirely that the weather today was a lot worse outside Wallingford and people faced frightening challenges even getting their journey started. For those colleagues who had to look after children, or for whom the risks of travelling was not worth taking I understand. I feel heartened that colleagues and students do not feel pressed to do something unsafe on such days.

Yesterday things looked very serious and I would have closed the school if the forecasts had been accurate. Even so it is very stressful to come in, open the school and hope there are enough people able to turn up to look after the young people. It could go very wrong. I sit in my office biting my nails for ages as the car park fills slowly. It is always a risk worth taking because everyone who possibly can always gets to work and starts by offering to do what they can to help. I am grateful to the leadership team who got in early and led by example. Ms Miller pretty much took over planning the day from the outset, doing a far better job than I would have done.

It is worth noting that governors offered, and came in, to help. That is a very impressive sign of a community pulling together.


For those who did get themselves to school I am very grateful and I hope you had as much fun as I have. We had an extra-long break time so the Sixth-Form-Versus-the-Rest snowball fight could take place. This seemed to turn into everyone versus Mr Harpin at one point. We also managed to provide everyone with free chips. The kitchen staff worked miracles so this could happen; thanks.

The first lesson or two involved waiting in the warm for many but so many teachers came in that we were able to run a curriculum. Sixth Form and Year 11 had their option lessons for most of the day.

The staff were given a little treat but it couldn’t go the smallest step of the way to showing how much I appreciate them going the extra mile. There was a fair amount of learning today and a lot more fun together than most would have had at home. Most importantly we gave families the option to operate normally, while showing young people that, if it is safe to do so, you should get up and get on when there is a challenge or the temptation to do otherwise. The local economy will have been able to function a little better today than those around us.


If I told everyone individually how proud I am of them for supporting my decision it would take a very long time and probably be awkward. On days like this I am reminded why I am so very proud of the colleagues and students I work alongside. If you were lucky enough to make it in you should know how far you stand out in this great profession of ours. If not, I’m sure you are equally pleased to contribute to such a team.

An honest, hardworking and conscientious team of people serving a community that has come to expect no less and brings its children up to be the same.

Thank you everyone.

N.J. Willis


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