During this unusual and trying time, we have all been forced to create a new ‘normal’ in an attempt not to succumb to the despair of this generation’s struggles with the coronavirus and find purpose in our day to day lives. The loss of our regular school and after school routines leave many feeling lost and for some, relief. But ever wondered about what our teachers have been up to? We have been able to reach out to one of our deputy heads, Mr McGurk, who was kind enough to answer some of our questions and provided us with an insight to the life of a teacher in lockdown.

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How are you finding lockdown?

Similar to most other people I have adjusted my normal way of life to a model that fills my day with as much purpose as possible.

What are the best/ worst things about lockdown?

The best has been the additional time available to explore topics and projects that normally time would not have permitted.  Books I have been meaning to read have been a big one. I have found myself out late at night watching a bright Venus in the sky which would never have happened normally. Also, a robin is visiting my garden just now and I am looking up what food they can eat. They enjoy sunflower seeds apparently. Ordinarily I would never have noticed the robin was there.

The worst is nothing compared to the suffering and anxiety that many families in our country have had to endure because of this virus. I miss badly the 1500 pupils and 100 staff under the same roof all going about their normal business.

What does a typical day look like?

I drop my daughter off most mornings for her 6.00am start at work. I prepare as normal for a working day and I am ready to go for 8.15. There is still plenty of work to be done and in the course of the day I am in contact with lots of people who are part of our school. I stop for lunch around one. It doesn’t beat standing in the street managing the queues for lunch and listening to who has the best excuse for getting to the front while shielding my eyes from Mr Shaw’s bright yellow shirt. I go back to the computer and pick away at things till about 4. After that things are flexible. Could be walking. Might be my turn to make the dinner. If the weather is decent it could be the garden for a while.

Have you developed any new or surprising skills?

Ha Ha. I discovered we have a hoover called Henry. I think my skills domestically are pretty well developed. Others in the house are certainly not of that opinion. I am even slaughtered on how I hang out a washing. You would think it was an art form!  I can now also pay the window cleaner and take in packages at the door that are never for me. I am told I have no business needing to know what is contained within the box or plastic bag.

What is something you couldn’t live without in lockdown?

Family, friends, Faith and books.

How do you think you would have managed if you had been in lockdown as a teenager?

Oh that’s a good question. If the lockdown had happened at the time when I was a teenager there would have been no mobile phones, x- boxes or internet. I was very much an outdoor guy as a young teenager. A leap over our back fence took me to streams, farmers’ fields and forests aplenty. A great play area. Only hunger drove you home at that age. The back garden could be a football pitch, a cricket pitch or a camping site. I would have managed.

Apart from your own family, pick three dream lockdown companions

Bruce Springsteen – He can bring his guitar and play my requests. I would feed and water him for his trouble.

Robert Caro – An American author who has spent most of his working life writing about Lyndon B Johnson. He is 84 years of age and is still working on his final volume of LBJ’s life. So much I would like to ask him.

Billy Connolly – Anyone who knows me knows I like to tell a story and listen to a storyteller. I am enjoying listening to Connolly just now as he reflects on his life and telling his stories in his unique style.

Any top lockdown tips? (this could be a recipe or fab app/ website you have tried)

Use your time purposefully. Don’t waste it. There are always things that can be done.
If it’s a recipe you are looking for, I can produce a mean chicken fajita. If you want the recipe, email me and I will share it.

If you could have told your pre-lockdown self, anything, what would you have told them? (maybe this is to better prepare yourself or not take things for granted?)
And finally, any message for your pupils?

I have learned to be patient in queues ranging for items from food to fence paint. It has taken me a long time to learn this ability. Just to pause, enjoy the moment and wait for your turn to enter or collect. I am a better person for this. Having spent too many years wishing to enter a stadium, or leave depending on the result, cinemas and theatres as quickly as possible.

Finally the new S6.  I am so looking forward to seeing you all again. It seems a long time since you were all in school at the same time. In my mind’s eye I am imagining where all the different groups stand around the street area. I hope you remember where all those locations are in the street. Guys, certainly not at the back door.  I pray now for what I prayed for at the start of this lockdown. That we all return safe and well. 

See you all soon.

John McGurk 

By Emma Lamont, Team Reporter 


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