For a Catholic High School in Newcastle, a slim book of gentle words and drawings has been inspirational in these unprecedented times for teachers and students alike, says assistant head David Swindells
ON 18 March St Cuthbert’s was informed that come Monday our doors would be shut for the majority of students as lockdown gripped. It had already been a strange week with hand washing and hygiene being a hot topic in the yard (which in my experience is very unusual for an all-boys school!). The school community wondered what the coming days and months would bring.
Now in times of chaos and uncertainty I would usually turn to Scripture for inspiration, however I found myself drawn to a charming little book chock full of wisdoms called The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy (inset).
The aforementioned quartet journey together through uncertain times and become bonded through their experiences. Looking back over what has been an unprecedented time in society and education I can’t help but see the parallels between our school community and Mackesy’s characters.
“What is that over there?” “It’s the wild,” said the Mole. “Don’t fear it.” St Cuthbert’s faced many challenges from late March to July. Our approach as a staff body was to go at the problems head on, with a can-do attitude, realising that we are all in this situation together. This was palpable when, in our first staff briefing on Monday 23rd, we prayed: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” As the school gradually reopened we worked to engrain this attitude into our young men.