No two days are the same in education and certainly last Thursday proved it. What appeared at first to be an inconvenient loss of power at 6:30 am to the boys’ boarding house turned out to be a widespread power cut across the region.
At first it was somewhat inconvenient with no electricity for the boarders’ breakfast and both parents and staff finding the local roads clogged by downed trees and power lines. However, as the morning wore on it was apparent that the anticipated restoration of power was not going to be at 9:30 am, as originally promised.
Our emergency systems run on battery power for a number of hours and it was possible to teach some of the morning lessons. However, by mid-morning it became clear that we would have to close the school for teaching and by lunchtime, that boarders too would have to go to their guardians as there was no guarantee we would be able to operate safely that evening.
Two things struck me most about the day. The first, that without power, including no phone lines and only a slow internet connection by mobile, life very quickly changed. This was felt most in the evening as it grew dark and we had the last couple of pupils with us waiting to be picked up.
We gathered in the boarders’ games room, with emergency lamps, and looked out onto a completely dark village. There was a suggestion we got out a pack of cards and it felt as though a generation of change was being quickly stripped away.
The second most striking aspect of the day was how the school community pulled together. Staff ensured that all pupils were accounted for and that everyone got home safely. Parents helped each other with picking up children and a number of families looked after boarders who weren’t able to easily get to their guardians at such short notice.
There are of course, a number of points we learnt from the experience, not least, considering what we could do in a future similar event, to create an alternative route for inbound calls if the phone lines were dead. It was a great help that our MIS system still allowed us to email parents despite our local server being down.
Most importantly I must say thank you to everyone who helped out on Thursday. It made a difficult situation far more manageable.
I would like to also say that we returned quickly to normal on Friday and as well as lessons resuming, we took part in the ISA Cross Country event as planned. There were a number of notable successes including Lilia Bennett picking up a bronze medal. Well done to Lilia and to everyone who took part. I saw some tired but determined figures racing around the grounds at Finborough and it was clear how committed our pupils were.
We look forward to hearing more news about how they got on and about the swimming nationals which took place today at the Olympic pool, next week.