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    Headmaster's Headlines 01-05-2020
    Jonathan Anderson

    We are now entering another month of lockdown, and this week I reminded the School what an amazing job they are doing in following the guidelines that keep us all safe and well. The Government’s message of “Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives” is everywhere – we are not being asked to do much, but our role is vitally important to controlling the pandemic. We must also recognise and support those NHS and care workers whose burden of responsibility is far greater than ours. On Tuesday, the nation held a minute’s silence to pay tribute to the key workers who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. At Merchiston, we have paid our own tribute by lighting the School up in blue – Brian, our Electrician, has added blue theatre gel to the flood lights with great effect! A local company also helped us make up a sign saying “Thank you to NHS workers from all in the Merchiston Community”, and Merchiston Juniors have been doing some super rainbow artwork.

    Our beautiful school grounds are very quiet at the moment, and it is wonderful that we have been able to offer this secluded space for vulnerable patients from a local NHS hospital who cannot exercise in public parks. It’s a small gesture, but hopefully it will make a difference to those who need the extra outdoor breathing space during this difficult time.

    I urge the School and Merchiston Community to make the best possible use of the space we have, and to focus on the things that we can do, rather than the things that we can’t. Whilst the global pandemic has left no corner of the world untouched, we have the unique opportunity to learn from an experience that we will carry forward with us. Let’s take the opportunity to learn some new, and see the situation that we are all in as an opportunity rather than a challenge.

    NEWS ROUND-UP

    There is much to enjoy and take inspiration from in our weekly school news! This week, we launched our Whole School Co-Curricular Competitions, and I look forward to seeing the art and public speaking presentations as the pupils send their submissions in over the next few weeks. The Centurion Challenge is now a week in, with everyone trying to score “runs” through cricket challenges, Google Classroom, cycling and running. Across the School, we have completed over 1300km, and it’s amazing to see that a few of the pupils and staff have reached your centuries already! Keep up the good work, and follow the updates from Mr McCann on the @MerchiSport Twitter feed. Well done too to the Sixth Form for all the money they are raising for charity through their taskmaster and trickshot challenges. I have enjoyed watching their videos @Merchi6th; I hope they enjoyed doing the challenges too.

    And, in other House news, @MerchiRog has been sharing with us the entrants so far for the Great Rogerson Bake/Cook Off – it’s great to see that the Fifth Form are still getting into their kitchens at home to show-off their culinary skills.
     

    CONGRATULATIONS

    There have also been some pupil achievements on the School social media that I would like to recognise as a whole school.
    Thomas should have been flying to Copenhagen on Tuesday to present a research project at the International Forum on Quality & Safety in Healthcare. He completed his research project during his work experience at a hospital, and it is a great achievement to have created work of the right calibre to be considered at an international forum – well done, and we look forward to this event being rearranged.
     

    Many congratulations to Muhammad who has completed his Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. This is a massive achievement, and shows that you have the skills, determination and mentality to really succeed - well done!
     

    Thomas is getting ready for the 2020 rally season and has announced that he will be supporting Race Against Dementia, which is a charity set up by F1 racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart. Good luck for this season, and hopefully you will raise lots of money for charity too.
    Christian has been working hard on his music during lockdown, and I enjoyed watching the clip of his cover of “I Wish You Love” that Mr Lieberman shared with me – well done, and I would love for other pupils to share their creative projects too.
    Well done to Maziar who completed his personal triathlon challenge last Sunday, which consisted of a 10km run, 1000 basketball free shots, 1500 karate punches and 250 press-ups – without a break! He has raised lots of money for the NHS to say thank you for all their hard work helping him and his sister with their bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, and risking their lives to support the country in these difficult times.

    This week, I would also like to recognise those Lower Sixth pupils who have been writing letters and sending music performances to their Koinonia (Teamwork in the Community) links at a local care home for the elderly, and a school for children with additional support needs. It was heart-warming to the see the tweets that your Housemaster shared @Merchi6th. Thank you!

    ACADEMIC AND CO-CURRICULAR UPDATE

    Upper Sixth – As we enter the time of year that is traditionally exam season, I just want to reiterate the teachers’ message to the Upper Sixth: Stay strong, stay safe, stay in touch. It’s great to hear that some great university offers are already coming in, and I look forward to hearing about more.
    Podcast – Please have a listen of this week’s podcast, which features Mr Bisset (Director of IT) and Dr Cartwright (Assistant Deputy Head Academic) talking about Merchiston’s development of the Personal Learning Device Policy.
     

    PUPIL SUPPORT UPDATE
    This week we have asked pupils to complete a short Wellbeing Survey to assess how the distance learning process is going for them. The key themes should allow us to ensure that we are maintaining our focus on wellbeing in this new school experience. We will share the key themes with pupils, parents and staff early next week and we will also be looking at the best way for parents to feedback on those key headlines. We have been impressed by the boys' engagement this term so far and we are aware that this is very much a team effort with the School, parents and the boys all working closely together. At Merchiston, we consider one of our strengths to be our willingness to review and to innovate and we will endeavour to continue to do so over the coming weeks.

    We have shared a "Wellbeing Top 10 To Do List" with all pupils – it is a reminder of the key points from our "Looking after your Wellbeing" leaflet which we sent out at the end of last term. Housemasters will be referring to this as a regular part of House discussions, and the challenge has gone out to the boys to create their own versions; we will share some of these in future weeks.

    Thank you to everyone for their continued support. We are having a bit of a break this weekend for Weekend Leave; I hope you all get a bit of breathing space too.

    If you are a parent, you will find the full version of the Headmaster’s weekly message on the Parent Portal. Please also visit the News Centre to see all our latest news, blog posts, podcasts and social media posts.