b'THE ELLESMERIAN The Headmasters Speech 5Speech Day 2022It is a great pleasurefor the first time in three yearsto be here in Big School to introduce Prize Giving and to mark the end of a successful academic year at the College. It is wonderful that we are able to gather together in this way;I think we should probably be grateful that Covid has only had such dramatic impact for two years: previous pandemics have lasted much longer, and it is a tribute to the rapid and ongoing development in medical science that we find ourselves in this position.The last major gathering I was in was at half term in Paris with my son at the Champions League Final. Although any time spent with my son is a pleasure it was a disappointing outcome; at least in this gathering I dont need to worry about being tear-gassed or mugged (or at least I hope I dontit would certainly makeMr Brendan Wignall, Headmasterfor a memorable Prize Giving, I suppose).The Covid period has not been easy for anyone, but the College It is a positive measure of parental satisfaction that during the has weathered the storm well. We had a relatively small drop inlockdown periods a quarter of parents chose not to accept the numberscertainly relatively small compared to some schoolsdiscount on fees that we offered, and I know from correspondence of around 15 at the start of the last academic year. The start ofthat that figure would have been even higher were it not for the this academic year saw pupil numbers rise by over 70 in number,need for the discount that many parents had as they faced their and that has increased further as the year has progressed.own economic challenges as a result of the pandemic.I think it is fair to say that we had a good Covid, if that is not aWe have learned a number of lessons during these times.rather distasteful term. As with most of life there is an element ofOne of them relates to this event and this speech in particular. luck, but much of our luck has been down to good judgementOver the last two years I have delivered shortened speeches to and good planning on the part of my colleagues.video. Pre-covid the traditional speech ran substantially over an hour, as it covered the successes of the school. It would have I want to mention particularly Mrs Pritt-Roberts, who led thelasted for much longer than that were it not for the fact that a academic delivery effort and saw us offering a full curriculumgood few years ago I decided to stop mentioning the names of immediately at the start of the summer term following thepupils. I am not complaining, because the speech celebrated lockdown, which was much earlier than most other many considerable achievements, but the achievements of the independent schools.collective pupil body were so great that the speech was becoming unmanageable. During the various periods when we were not in lockdown, the College suffered significantly fewer disruptions than otherWhile it was great to deliver on the news of successes, it was schools, and that was down to Dr Chatterjees excellentpretty cruel for many in the audience given that you areandmanagement of our Covid safety procedures.it probably felt like it for many of the speechesa captive audience. Detailed successes of the school are recorded in the Of course, I am singling out two people but I need to be clearEllesmerian Magazine.That is a very substantial publication, that I am grateful to everyone at Ellesmere who workedbecause there is a lot of success to record, but my speech willincredibly hard during this Covid period to support the childrenno longer attempt to duplicate the job of the Ellesmerian. and keep the show on the road: they have done so very successfully indeed.'