With our campus swathed in red, and lanterns swinging in the welcome breeze Riverside celebrated the start of the year of the ox this week.
With gifts from the Shrewsbury Parents’ volunteers, and a myriad of wonderful outfits the campus was noisy, colorful and filled with joy. It is hard to believe that only two weeks ago this all seemed very distant again.
The opportunity to celebrate three different new year celebrations is a sign of our diverse and inclusive culture and also our capacity to enjoy the opportunity to restart and refresh. The theme of refreshment is key to many new year celebrations. Washing or sweeping away poor luck feels cathartic, and although never easy to stick to, making resolutions for new projects or behaviours allow focus.
In reopening the school for the third time after periods of closure, we are hopeful once again that we can again begin to sweep away some of the restrictions on our lives. This is easier said than done and we all know this will be a long process, but to have the school full with enthusiastic learners and teachers delighted to be back doing what they love, we have a glimpse of what is ahead.
Learning is the thread that binds us all in the Shrewsbury community. Over the past twelve months we have learned much. How to deliver a school online, how to reopen after closure, how to manage students safely and successfully in a pandemic, how to keep aspirations high in all areas of school and how to continually work in an environment that offers few certainties or security.
As we all know learning is not a linear or easy process, but one where progress can plateau or accelerate swiftly. Schools experience institutional learning as an aggregation of the people within. Over these twelve months Shrewsbury has built on the wealth of prior experience held to adapt to challenging circumstances. It can do this well as the average stay for staff at Shrewsbury is over 6 years (3 contracts!). In 2020 (pre COVID) we retained 93% of our fully qualified teaching staff, in 2021 we will retain 96% of them. Exceptional people drawn to stay at an exceptional school.
The more we stay together the more knowledge and experience builds, all of which benefits the students especially as the Shrewsbury community navigates uncharted waters.
So as another new year dawns, Shrewsbury embraces all that is ahead with the benefit of all that has come before. If you search ‘the character of the ox’ on google, Wikipedia tells you that ‘strong, reliable and fair’ are the keywords that describe that year.
These words are perfect for describing Shrewsbury’s journey in recent months. The strength of the experience and intellect of the exceptional people we already have, the reliability of knowing that the institution retains almost all of the community year on year, and fairness links so strongly to our ethical and valued governance from the UK and Thailand.
Not a bad way to move forward - happy new year 新年快乐