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Hessle High School

WEEK 33 - Friday 11 June 2021

I have always wondered why - as you get older - time seems to pass so much more quickly than it did when I was a young man. When I look back on the summers I spent as a teenager and a twentysomething, they seemed one long endless carefree period of enjoyment. They seemed to go on forever. When, in reality, the six weeks away from school, or couple of months away from university, were just that.

But now, the weeks fly by, the months disappear before I have even said ‘white rabbits’ and the years? Well, how is it already 2021?  

I once read a book called ‘A Death in the Family’ by Karl Ove Knausgaard in which the author tried to explain this phenomenon of rapidly accelerating time and he attributed it to the type of experiences we encounter in our early or later years. Our youth is generally filled with new experiences, full of highs and lows, each of which, when we look back, are vivid in our memory, giving the impression that those months and years were jam-packed with incident and, consequently, seemed to last a long time.

We then spend most of our adult lives repeating those experiences, usually in search of our youth, and trying to smooth out the ups and downs of life. But as our lives get filled with home, children, career, we don’t have the time for the ups and downs and so we seek routines and predictable patterns. As a consequence, our day to day lives generally become better but much more predictable and, over time, each day, week and month becomes indistinct from the next. Well that is Karl’s theory anyway but I tend to think it is probably true. But what has this got to do with school?

Managing routine is a key part of growing up as a teenager and is a crucial part of our work in school. Without predictable routines, school is chaos (there are 1200 teenagers here every day!) and not just for the staff. The main victims of chaos are the children, especially those that are most vulnerable or who have special educational needs. Our work is mostly around establishing systems and routines and making sure that they happen consistently every day. We work on our routines not in order to squeeze the individuality out of students or to quash their personalities but in order to create an environment that is safe, stable and within which their own creativity and that of their staff can flourish. Believe me the very best teaching always takes place in a classroom where the teacher is in total control, where the students know exactly what is expected of them and where there are no distractions around uniform, punctuality or behaviour. This is our goal.

Over the past fifteen months, we have introduced several new routines due to Covid and, without exception, we have been incredibly impressed with how the students have responded to them, whether it be face coverings, one way systems, bubbles or the tutor group line up. Each of these has been supported by our students for the benefit of themselves and others. We are very proud of them. As we move into the new Academic Year, we hope to relax some of these while maintaining others which have a demonstrable impact on the orderly environment of the school. In the coming weeks, I will use this blog to explain these to you and to gain your support as we continue to drive up standards in our school and make the place an environment in which students can flourish.  

We hope that creating routines in school does not lead to time passing too quickly for our youngsters but that the opposite is the case; it allows the space for the truly great, lifelong memories to take place which they will never forget.

Take care and stay safe

Mr V Groak