“The buzz and the enjoyment and the laughter: that’s what I’m keen to get back,” said Adrienne Richmond, Principal of The Mount, as girls return to school on–site last Monday at the all-girl Quaker school for girls aged 3-18 years.
With the second return from lockdown, girls’ reactions to being back at school have varied from being giddy with excitement, eagerness to be back in the classroom and delight at seeing friends again to quiet anxiety about the path to coming out of lockdown.
With the inevitable social upheaval wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic, supporting the girls’ mental health during this period has been just as important as continuing their education. Aware of the negative effects of lockdown, we have taken serious steps throughout the past year to cater to girls’ needs and ensure that causes for concern are spotted early and appropriate interventions taken to support them.
Logistical adjustments were already in place from the Autumn Term, including shortened lessons to allow for screen breaks. In the mornings, Form Times were used to encourage people to share their experiences, to help support one another’s wellbeing. Pastoral drop-in sessions are now available in School for each Year group, when any pupils may speak with their tutors about any issues they may be experiencing, allowing them time and space to share and understand their experiences. Staff at The Mount have taken part in training and workshops designed to support girls and how they may have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Pupils are encouraged to move outside, in the School’s spacious grounds, so that they can relax and feel as calm as possible, and know that even if a pandemic is outside the gates, life goes on as normal as possible in School.
Girls at The Mount were already familiar with the one-way system in place throughout the school. There is now a greater emphasis on maintaining distancing. Year groups remain in their respective bubbles, but the girls have none-the-less found creative ways to show even more care for each other. When Asta and Milly in Year 7 were unable to celebrate their shared birthday with a party, their Form Tutors took them outside for Form Time to enjoy a spontaneous run-around and outdoor games. As the girls gathered to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the birthday girls, a group of Year 10s were crossing the lawn and came over to join in the singing. So, with the Year 10s at a safe distance, they all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ for Asta and Milly again and, as they were doing that, a passing group of Year 9s joined in the sing-a-long. “Mount girls are part of a unique small community; they are extremely supportive of one another and it is so heartening to see them continue to display great compassion and empathy for their peers,” comments Adrienne Richmond.
Lateral Flow Tests
As per the Government’s guidance, a calm but purposeful system for lateral flow testing was set up in the Sports Hall for girls in the Senior School. “It was really smooth. We arrived at a certain time, filled in the form with our iPads and everything was wiped down after each person,” said Ruby in Year 11. Staff who were supervising the testing complimented the girls on their calm and mature demeanour throughout the process.
Ms Richmond’s desire for enjoyment and laughter was certainly met this week. The girls’ joy in being back with their friends was palpable. Spring Term Activities began immediately to give girls the chance to swim, run and play in ways they have not been able to for weeks. Unsurprisingly, the Netball courts and swimming pool sessions have been immensely popular. On Red Nose Day (19 March), the whole school will celebrate with a fun non-uniform day and enjoy Inter-House activities organised by Fry House. “The girls are already looking forward to it,” said Jackie Eccles who co–ordinates the Houses and Charity activities and teaches PE.