Welcome from Jo Duncan

Wycombe Abbey Headmistress with WA Pupil

The announcement of the reopening of schools in England from 8 March has been very positively received and there is a renewed sense of optimism and hope as we look forward to welcoming girls back onsite next week. I am aware that it is not possible for everyone to return physically at this time due to travel restrictions and other complications and teachers and House staff will continue to support those who will be hybrid learning for the remainder of the term.

Since the start of the global pandemic, we have all been aware of the impact of lockdown on the mental health and wellbeing of young people. From disruption to attachments and friendships, to increased anxiety caused by many unknown variables, young people have had to swiftly adapt to both learning and fostering friendships online. As we prepare for the physical reopening next week, these are key mental health considerations that we have taken onboard to ensure that the best support is available for all pupils. Public Health England have recently updated its published guidance entitled Guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and it is really useful in providing suggestions for parents in spotting any concerning signs of a deterioration in mental health and wellbeing. You can read it in full here.

Each pupil at Wycombe Abbey, has a large number of people to turn to if they have anything they wish to discuss. They can turn to their Housemistress and House Staff Team, Head of Year and Tutor, Rev. Penny, Mr Jones, Mrs Fawkes, Mrs Chandler and the Health Centre Team and the School Counsellor Claire Maddock. A number of staff including Mrs Fawkes and Miss Blunt have been trained as Mental Health First Aiders, and are on hand should any member of staff or pupil have concern about a member of our community. We also have an active peer listening service within the School led by sixth formers who have undertaken training for this role. Whether your daughter is returning in person or remaining a remote learner, support is readily available for her. You may be aware that Housemistresses, Assistant Housemistresses, Matrons and Tutors have been undertaking both individual and group calls throughout this period of lockdown to ensure that pupils are coping with the emotional and academic pressures they are facing. If your daughter is remaining as a remote learner, these calls will continue until the end of the term, and our Pastoral Leaders have had additional training in spotting any concerning signs that may exist. The emotional demands of the past calendar year cannot be underestimated, but we are very much on hand to support both you and your daughters as they navigate through this period of considerable change.

We are aware that this is a particularly difficult time for girls in public examinations years and we will update these year groups as soon as we have further information. We know how difficult it is to have such uncertainty about something so important. Please do get in touch with Dr Carrier or Miss Boswell should you have any specific concerns at this point.

Best wishes

Jo Duncan MA (St Andrews), PGCE (Cantab)