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Coronavirus update

Dear Old Wilsonians,

The events of the last month are unprecedented in our lifetimes. As well as requiring a response from the nation as a whole, the challenges presented by COVID-19 have acted as an amplifier of each individual’s true character. Inevitably there are the much publicised actions of the self-serving and self-centred, but overall I have been heartened rather than saddened, particularly by the extraordinary selflessness and bravery shown by so many, including in our own community.

Currently I am the Headmaster of two schools. A very small one for the children of key workers and a remote one for the overwhelming majority of Wilson’s boys. The boys (and some siblings) who are with us in school so that their parents can do their duty in a range of fields. They are treated to a varied diet, including work set by their teachers, an hour of sport and various creative tasks. They note that the queues for the dining hall are much smaller and having access to all of the school’s facilities has its plus points – including being able to watch films on the big screen whilst lying back on bean bags! For those Wilsonians who know me well, they will be aware that Sport has never been my strong suit. That said, I put my recent running training to good use and led both indoor and outdoor P.E. as part of the staff rota. The children in school will no doubt have been relieved when the professionals in the Sports Department took over last week.

Keeping in touch with the boys at home has been important to us. We have already begun the gargantuan task of telephoning every boy, beginning with Year 13, whose A levels have of course been cancelled. Those boys who are eligible for Free School Meals, or who need support in other ways, have received it from the very first day of the school’s closure. The staff of the school, ever its strength, have been generous both in time and spirit. There have been enormous pressures on me personally in recent weeks, with very many decisions having to be made very quickly. It would have been impossible to perform my duties without the tremendous resilience and good humour of the staff team.

I know that many of you will be involved in front line work. Along with the nation, I take my hat off to you. Leading a school with a 400 year history allows one to achieve some kind of perspective for most bumps along the road during any one academic year; however, this situation is clearly seismic in its implications and will be recorded alongside other national crises in our history. Those within our community who are supporting the sick or the vulnerable in any capacity should be proud of the fact that they are truly displaying what it means to be a Wilsonian. Non Sibi Sed Omnibus is a good mantra for day to day life. However, it’s crucial in circumstances such as these.

My best wishes to you and your loved ones at this time. Stay safe.

NJ Cole
Wilson's School