School and townIt has been a difficult week in school as we have started to come to terms with the loss of a valued and much-loved member of the school community.

Times like these are hard for everyone. We have said to students this week that it is fine to show emotions – to cry, to be quiet, to laugh at memories. We all deal with grief in different ways and it is particularly hard for young people when a friend and classmate passes away. There is no right or wrong way to behave and it is for all members of the school community to show compassion and understanding for each other. We have seen these attributes in abundance this week – looking out for fellow students but also our young people looking out for staff who have been upset and affected. The strength of a community is how it copes with hard times and I have been very proud to be part of the Wallingford School community this week.

It is a uniquely testing time for us all. I spoke to our Year 11s and Year 13s on Thursday about the cancellation of their examinations. As I write this we don’t know what will replace them or how it will work. We know that this is worrying for the students affected and we have tried to reassure them that things will be OK: these are unprecedented times and will require unprecedented actions. The dignity both year groups have demonstrated in dealing with this disruption is admirable; their emotions are mixed and raw but they are sticking together. We will continue to do everything we can to support them – even, for a while, from a distance - now and moving forward so that next year they are where they want to be.

In such a week I would like to again thank everyone who has been in touch with the school with messages of support. It is not an easy time but the strength of our school community is that we support each other and will continue to do so.