Out of the mouths of babes…….
At the end of what should have been the Easter holiday for Welsh schools, our main focus as schools during this dark and unprecedented time is offering support to our learners and their families.
Yesterday, Welsh Government published their new continuity of learning policy statement – ‘Stay Safe. Stay Learning’. It is refreshing to hear that the main focus continues on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our learners and our workforce, while ensuring we support those learners to continue to learn.
Although it is our duty as leaders of education in Wales to maintain and promote the well-being of our young learners, during such difficult times we sometimes also need a boost. I must admit that this boost came to me from the words of children and young people.
During Easter, as I cycled through the local area, it was heart-warming seeing all the paintings and messages of hope from the local children. Some were high quality works of art, skilful and articulate in style, while others were simple and basic. However, what really shone through was the sincerity and positivity of youth. The encouraging colours of the rainbow were everywhere to be seen, and ‘Diolch’ was the most prominent word. The words on the paintings were optimistic expressions of the hope our children and young people hold in a very difficult and dark time.
I cannot finish without referring to some examples of these old expressions of young hope. The most common and the favourite which captures our young people’s hope was of course:
Daw eto haul ar fryn. (Things will get better)
As I arrived in one small village, I especially liked the message which summarises young people’s community spirit and kindness:
Ar wahân ond gyda’n gilydd. (Apart but still together)
And certainly, the wisdom of the hopeful words I saw in large print on another painting the same day cannot be disputed:
Wedi storom daw enfys. (After every storm comes the rainbow)
It was also during this time, we at Ysgol Glan Clwyd liaised directly with our young learners to ensure their safety and wellbeing. Again, I was touched by the hopeful, innocent and optimistic spirit of our children and young people. I very much hope that I will be forgiven for quoting briefly and anonymously from some of these messages. Once again Glan Clwyd pupils – Diolch!
There is wonderful innocence in the words of this pupil, who describes his current life to his head of year:
I’m very well thank you. I’ve been trying to learn card tricks and magic to show my family. We have been for our one-hour daily walks. Today, we went by the river, there were large stones so we tried to build a stone bridge.
The following message is different but equally shows the resilience of families in our area and the hope of our youth:
Mum works from home so she is here every day with us, but my dad has to go to work, which is a little worrying. But when dad comes home we play board games, which is great fun and we had a darts tournament today as a family!
And the ending of one older pupil’s message represented to me the sincerity of our youth:
I hope you manage to stay busy and safe. I wish I could be back in school as I miss the school and everyone there.
Therefore, as we officially begin the summer term at school, with so many important things needing our urgent attention – fair exam grading for the school’s older learners, clear and fair guidance for Year 10 and 12 learners who currently remain in a bit of a limbo – listening to the wise words of our young people will sustain us and put a smile on our faces. Out of the mouths of babes…..!