Mrs Niblock finished her address to the Senior House assembly on the morning of Monday 20 April with the words “Good luck everybody. Stay safe, keep calm and carry on.”
As she spoke on the first day of what was an unprecedented Summer Term, the country was still in the midst of lockdown, tragically over 400 deaths per day were still being recorded across the UK and the global infection rate had passed more than 2.4m cases.
Like all schools across the UK, except for children of key workers and vulnerable pupils, Durham High School was instructed to close its gates on Friday 20 March 2020. Despite this, our girls, parents and staff showed amazing resilience to come together the following week to help keep school life as ‘normal’ as it possibly could be during very abnormal circumstances; and they did not stop.
Adapting to new technology and a new way of learning very quickly, our staff and pupils embarked on an extraordinary journey which has more than met expectations for the Summer Term’s curriculum. This was achieved using a variety of virtual teaching methods, which resulted in 352,000 emails sent and received, 406,000 face-to-face Microsoft Teams interactions and 200,000 OneDrive files shared.
In June we were able to welcome back pupils in Nursery, Reception, Year 1, Year 2 and Year 6 full time. Girls in Year 3, 4 and 5 were also invited in for a day with their friends and class teachers and we held important face-to-face sessions for pupils in Year 10 and 12.
This means that at the beginning of the next academic year in September, our girls will return to school rested and recharged from a full summer break, to a full curriculum offering and with no need for any catch up.
In addition, with thanks to the virtues of the virtual, from House events to School Council meetings, art exhibitions to sporting challenges, Leavers Service to Sixth Form Bake Off, from assemblies to virtual concerts: Even though we were physically apart, as a school community we have never been closer.