“The last two years” is a phrase we read, hear, think or say a lot at the moment. As we reach the end of our Spring Term, it’s hard not to think about these same months in 2020, as we witnessed the outbreaks creep closer to home, and wondered just how big a wave was about to crash over us.

The pandemic is by no means over, but we might just be through the worst. It feels as though we’re emerging, blinking into the sunlight, wondering what’s been lost, what’s changed forever, and what is new.

It’s a theme that has been woven throughout this term: from celebrating the sheer delight brought back to Abbey life by our Senior School’s glorious ‘Hairspray’ musical, to the sudden certainty that a visiting farm is the answer to all that our Nursery girls have missed. 

So much has shifted for so many of us; it’s hardly surprising that the impact of “the last two years” is being felt in strange and unexpected ways. Some of them may even be good. Many people made painful but positive realisations about their careers or their relationships during the pandemic. Is it callous to say that there’s positivity to be found amid the suffering, or is it that most human of emotions: hope?

Hope has felt in short supply recently, and not just because of Covid. Even before that – Brexit, Trump, political polarisation and the growing stranglehold that the toxic mess of social media has over our society have caused many people to assume that we’re living in dreadful times that will never get better. To be optimistic about the future felt naïve, almost wilfully oblivious to the world around us.

But I’m not so sure. In the face of threat and possible disaster, the best – the only – response as a school community is hope. Not as a form of denial, but as a declaration of belief in a better world, one that is within our power to create.

Our staff plan each event in our calendar meticulously, but I’m still struck by how each one can take a life of its own; how the constituent parts – the present mood of the musicians in the pit on the opening night of the musical, the current mindset of plucky students who took to the stage with such courage and style – come together to create an energy all of their own.

There’s been a surge of optimism in our school this term. I see it in the steely attitude of form teachers planning summer residential trips for the first time in two years, in the revived appetite for fun as our sports team head off with our lower and upper Juniors to Dinton Pastures for a week’s watersports and, of course, in our Nursery children looking sublime with young lamb, guinea pigs and kids nestled in their arms.

If the last two years have taught me anything, it’s never to make predictions with any certainty, but if this term has told me one thing, it’s that better times are coming. Here’s hoping, anyway…

Nisha Kaura, Head of The Abbey Junior School