This is not the start of term that we were hoping for, but I would like to welcome all of you back to Wellington Online and wish you a very happy New Year. I hope that each one of you enjoyed the Christmas holiday and that you had the chance to relax and spend time with your families. Although we would like to be back in school together, I hope that you are pleased nonetheless to be going back to classes and seeing your teachers and friends again – even if it is only on a computer screen. Very few young people have access to the kind of high quality online teaching that you have access to and, as always, I encourage you to make the most of every opportunity.

I am not the only one who has talked about the inherent uncertainty of the times that we are living in. But as we enter 2021, a new year, maybe it is time to think differently. Instead of talking about uncertainty, perhaps we should concentrate on the fact that whilst we are living our lives against a shifting backdrop, a lot of the things that are important to us remain unchanged.

Education matters to all of us and the importance of working hard and doing your best does not change, regardless of whether you are working in school or at home. Your teachers will do their best to engage and inspire you online, just as they do in the real life classroom. The ambitions that you have for the future are just as real as ever. The world may be going through a difficult period, but time has not stopped. Regardless of the pandemic, our S6 pupils will leave school in the summer and go on to the next stage of their lives, whether it be at university, at college, or pursuing their dreams along a different path.

I often highlight the importance of being kind and thinking of others. These things matter just as much as ever. You may miss seeing your friends whilst school is closed, but there is more to friendship than that. I know that you will keep closely in touch with one another.

Rather than dwelling on frustrations and wondering ‘what if’ or ‘if only’, let us approach the coming weeks with purpose and optimism. I am sure that most of us would prefer to be together in school, but that option is unavailable at the moment. Instead, let us celebrate what we do have. Let us make the most of Wellington Online. Let us stay connected with one another. And let us look forward to the day when we can be together in real life once more.

So, work hard and remember that your teachers are there to help and support you, just as they are when we are in school. I hope that the next few weeks go well for you and I very much hope to see you all back in school on 1 February.