The Headmaster’s Newsletter

Dear Parents

This communique comes to you all from an eerily quiet Ridge School where, as I look out of my office window at the empty carpark and the Hersov Field below, the happy sounds of boys arriving for school and young lads at play are sadly missing. In fact, that the lack of noise can be deafening. We take solace from the fact that they are all safe, happy and healthy at respective home bases, and that the novel online learning experiences are offering an interesting ‘flipped classroom’ type adventure for each of them. But ‘boy’ do we do miss them all.  (This paragraph was composed last Friday morning)

An Update from up here on the Westcliff Ridge:

  • The online learning has been running for a few days now and from what we have been able to ascertain, in the main, it would seem to have been well-received by most of the boys and their parents. Most of the initial teething issues have largely been dealt with and we will continue to keep a close eye on ways to improve features of the offsite learning platforms in ways that will enhance and improve what the boys are receiving to work on each day.
  • Our Exco team met on Thursday morning to discuss and plan for the way forward. We are considering and working towards gearing up and preparing for a number of eventualities. All of them are obviously dependent on the magnitude and speed at which the Covid-19 outbreak spreads into our community, how quickly it is brought under control, and at what stage we expect that it will be safe for us all to return to ‘schooling as usual’. Many of you will, of course, be engaged in similar offsite discussions at your own places of work.
  • We will be holding a series of staff and departmental video conference calls in the days immediately ahead. In addition to just wanting to connect to everyone, it will also be important to receive feedback from the teachers and to plan for the next stage of online instruction and interaction with respective classes and their boys into the days ahead. Much of this will be shared with parents at some stage thereafter.
  • I am intending to conduct an online Headmaster’s Assembly from the Nicolson Hall on Friday morning. I have really missed this contact with the boys, teachers and parents and so, whilst understandably, being at a distance and remote, I look forward to sharing a thought or two with the boys. The assembly will start at 08.00. I am inviting all boys and teachers to tune in and I would encourage parents to listen in as well should they choose to.
  • We have had close to 130mm of rain at The Ridge during the past three days. As a result, everything has had a good soaking, the fields have taken on a stunning emerald green hue, and the borehole water levels are full to overflowing. Unfortunately, the school pool didn’t escape unscathed and was on the receiving end of a good deal of the torrent of water and debris overflowing off Hersov Field and the Woolston Road carpark.

Covid-19 … It’s time to fight back

This extraordinary need to recalibrate in so many areas of life, both personal and professional, and the completely unplanned for realignment that Covid-19 is forcing upon us all at this time is having an unprecedented impact on every aspect of our lives and those of our children. It’s certainly not easy to get our heads around nor to find words that adequately express all that needs to be processed.

What we are able to explore, however, are the promises of a good few silver linings that can lift the spirit and bring a smile to our faces each day. History reminds us that the fortitude and resilience of the human spirit has, down the ages, shone more brightly when people have had to stand together. A collective demonstration of ‘digging deep’ through a determined show of collaborative resolve, shared solidarity and inner strength as they face down the threat of a common enemy.

It’s in the context of togetherness and being there for each other that we can relearn and take back some of what, perhaps, we would seem to have lost touch with as a society. Listening to the voices and the thoughts of others can prove to be both enlightening and cathartic in this context.

I felt encouraged whilst listening to a 45 year old coronavirus patient who shared his experience and how he is coping; both with the virus and as he lives through and endures the required period in quarantine on the road to full recovery. Towards the end of the interview he shares a few thoughts that provide for some interesting insight that certainly spoke to me, particularly given the circumstances surrounding the person speaking. This is not verbatim but I have tried to extract some of what his personal battle against the virus is awakening within him.

“I’m not concerned about myself. But I am honestly petrified for my parents and for other weak and vulnerable people in our society …  

There is, I believe, a silver lining to all of this, though; this virus is giving us a chance to relook at the way in which we live and behave in society. It’s teaching those of us young enough not to feel physically threatened by the virus that it’s not so much about us but more about how, by looking after ourselves, we are indirectly looking after and caring for others. Essentially, putting others and their wellbeing first.

 If we truly understand that we are 100% in charge of our ability to keep the virus at bay by not touching our faces, by washing our hands regularly and well, and by keeping our distance from others, then we can remain healthy. The point is, though, to be strong and healthy not only for our own sakes but so as not to spread the virus to others. This requires of us all a level of citizenship and social responsibility that we have never before had to face up to and adopt. If we all play our part we can face down this virus and win.”

Most of you parents would have been receiving, as I have, some gently inspiring and meaningfully composed prose that offer some personal reflections and that can provide solace, comfort and hope during these difficult and threatening times. For those who perhaps haven’t seen or read some of these, I thought that I would take the liberty of sharing them with you all. Enjoy:

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“Despite the uncertainty and the strange times we live in, we need to navigate the changes with grace, calm and generosity of spirit to all beings. My hope is that this will pave the way for better choices, greater social and environmental consciousness and a community-minded spirit.”            Anonymous


“It seems a little ridiculous to me that people are so afraid that their children are going to miss a whole month of learning.

How about using this month to teach them how to cook, check the oil in the car, do laundry, treat others with respect, sew on a button, deep clean, balance a budget, etc. not all learning is done in a classroom!”               Anonymous

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Yes there is fear.

Yes there is isolation.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.


They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

The sky is no longer thick with fumes

But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in Italy people are singing to each other

across the empty squares,

keeping their windows open

so that those who are alone

may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that in the West of Ireland

a young woman is spreading fliers with her number through the neighbourhood

So that the elders may have someone to call on.

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting

All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality

To how big we really are.

To how little control we really have.

To what really matters.

To Love.

So we pray and we remember that

Yes there is fear.

But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is sickness.

But there does not have to be disease of the soul

Yes there is even death.

But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

Today, breathe.


The birds are singing,

The sky is clearing,

And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

And though you may not be able

to touch across the empty square,


Richard Hendrick.   March 13th 2020


A Final Word:   From the book … The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse

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To you all and your families, best wishes, good health, please embrace responsible citizenship and warm regards



Richard Stanley


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