The backdrop to our lives has become an anxious one – affected by opinions over BLM and our response to equality, diversity and inclusion; Everyone’s Invited and the #MeToo movement; together with a climate emergency, online harms, mental health and wellbeing, as well as continued economic and financial uncertainty. 

It feels relevant, amid this landscape, to have shared in the national opportunity last week to remember the service and sacrifice of all those who defended our freedoms and protected our way of life. Through services held across our school sites, our community was reminded of the Armed Forces and their families, from Britain and the Commonwealth, the vital role played by the emergency services and those who have lost their lives as a result of conflict or terrorism. Upper II students led our morning assembly with personal reflection on members of their families who have played their crucial part over the generations, giving thanks for the sacrifice they made as soldiers, sailors, air men and women, ensuring no-one was forgotten. The military and the civilians, the old and young – all those who have fought wars, disasters and pandemics to protect and defend our country – were honoured, while the school fell silent for two minutes at 11am in tribute. Our staff and student buglers signalled the silence as the haunting sound of The Last Post, followed by the Reveille, reverberated across our sites. 

It is, perhaps, an inevitable sadness that there are fewer and fewer veterans to share their stories of some of the most frightening and uncertain times in our history. Countless individuals – many everyday civilians, across the world – who did extraordinary things to fight looming dark powers. If just a few small details in history had been different, we might be living in a very different version of Britain. The courage and passion of our forefathers, who were brave enough to enlist in the face of threat and danger, offers us motivation to persevere through the COVID era. Their gift for rolling with the punches and keeping their spirits up at all costs, are admirable qualities to which we all aspire. It is an honour to reflect on the incredible sacrifices that those before us made, which afforded us the freedoms which we can so easily take for granted. 

I posed the question to our Junior School students over breakfast this week – in understanding that “life happens”, what have our ancestors taught us? Their responses were impressively far-reaching and insightful: everything from, “evolve with the times and embrace new technology” through to, “fight for what you believe in” and “keep a positive outlook, no matter what”. 

Most importantly, perhaps the greatest shared lesson learnt is the knowledge that how we live leaves a lasting impression on the generations to come. And at a time of continued uncertainty, which calls upon unlimited reserves of resilience, empathy and hope, it feels pertinent to ask within the school’s community what our legacy will be. As parents, governors and teachers of Generation Z – how will we be remembered? 

Nisha Kaura, Head of The Abbey Junior School