From the desk of the Head Master 1 February 2019
On Wednesday, a contractor working on the pavement outside school accidentally damaged a power cable.
The immediate effect was a lunchtime emergency with power out in the kitchens. I am very grateful to the catering team for ensuring all the boys got fed one way or another, and to all the staff who made other arrangements to ensure no boys went hungry.
Another effect of the power cut was that it caused our email server to shut down for the rest of the day. The effect on some of the staff was a little like a snow day. We were gleefully out from behind our desks, going to see one another in person to discuss things rather than sending an email – imagine that! We were also able to clear work without more things pinging in to interrupt us. People genuinely perked up as a consequence of the brief outage.
When I wrote the school timetable, as I did for six years at a previous job in a previous life, I used to warn the staff that I was going into purdah for a week and they should not email me – I would be in the Common Room at break and lunch if they had anything urgent to ask me about. They respected that (probably because they didn’t want to be given Year 9 last period on a Friday) and it was quite liberating for that week.
I am not suggesting that email stops being the useful tool it is – for passing on and storing information – but that we can all moderate the way we use it without asking contractors to sabotage the server every Wednesday afternoon.
The boys’ use of social media is an ongoing concern, with the pressure to be constantly connected, particularly when it is used at inappropriate times. We might all do more to model the behaviours we want from them.