Tuesday, 27 July 2021

New head praises parents for good sense over virus

New head praises parents for good sense over virus

THE new headteacher of Rupert House School in Henley has praised parents for their “sensible” approach to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nick Armitage took over at the independent school in Bell Street at the start of the new academic year earlier this month.

He replaced Clare Lynas, who retired in the summer after seven years.

Mr Armitage said that despite the covid-19 crisis, children were pleased to be back in the classroom, as were their parents.

He said: “Since school restarted there has been a huge amount of energy from everyone to get on.

“We were very conscious that there might be some anxious children but we were very fortunate to have them in for a couple of weeks at the end of last term so those children were excited to be back and those coming to Rupert House for the first time had been looking forward to being here.”

The school has implemented measures to help prevent the spread of the virus, including signage advising on the importance of regular hand-washing, a one-way system and year group “bubbles” to ensure that a broad range of clubs and activities is still available.

Pick-up and drop-off and lunchtimes have all been staggered, with more entrances in use, and the children have their temperature checked on arrival.

Mr Armitage said that there had been no issues so far with the health of the children.

He said: “Parents have been incredibly supportive and sensible and are taking everything seriously and we are keeping them in the loop.

“We are all adopting a sensible, pragmatic approach. We don’t want groups off school and we are constantly reviewing our processes.

“There are a lot of things we have learnt and will look to take forward post-covid. We have continued to do remote learning and are looking at using it as part of the new school day. That will also mean that if we have to go into another lockdown we are ready to continue teaching.”

Mr Armitage, 44, was deputy head of St Hugh’s Preparatory School, near Faringdon, for the last six years.

Born in London, he worked in advertising and marketing before completing a post graduate certificate in education at Cambridge University, where he rowed in the lightweight Boat Race in 2004. He then began a career in co-educational preparatory schools.

A keen rower, long distance runner, sailor, singer and artist, Mr Armitage is married to Polly, a professional musician, and has three children, Zachary, 16, who attends Radley College, Mamie, 10, who has joined Rupert House, and Claudie, two.

The family plans to move from their home in West Hanney to Ewelme.

Mr Armitage says that teaching is not just about passing exams but also striving to succeed in challenging situations thanks to “the growth mind-set”.

He said: “The growth mind-set is the idea that you don’t give up, you work through it. It is not about seeing a sea of ticks, it is about correcting things, problem-solving and improving.

“I believe that will set the children up for senior school and adult life. It also teaches them to be adaptable as people often have lots of different roles in their adult lives. Failure for so many people has finite connotations. It is almost as if the door is shut at that point. I want the word to be expunged from the dictionary.

“The whole growth mind-set is about learning that things don’t always go to plan and learning from mistakes with low stakes.

“We don’t want the children to feel destroyed by something not going right. To have to strive for things and learning from mistakes I believe is an important life lesson.”

He also supports the school’s values of creativity, courage, resilience and respect and says teaching should evolve to reflect what’s going on in the world.

Mr Armitage said: “It is essential that the children are grounded and that is all about social responsibility.

“The Black Lives Matter campaign is a really powerful one and our children are taught to respect all faiths and backgrounds and how they are all part of everyday life and how to look at the world from different people’s perspectives.

“Climate change is another part of our everyday dialogue as a school in the way we are behaving and recycling and sourcing food and the children are very engaged with that.

“We also have our school council where the children can raise these kinds of issues.

“Climate change more generally is part of our geography and science lessons as we give our children the tools to thrive either in society or in those backgrounds.”

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