A Year Like No Other for School’s Monitorial Team
Monday, 19 April 2021
In line with tradition, the new Sixth Form Monitors’ Team was announced in the final assembly of the Spring Term at Bolton School Boys’ Division. The transition certainly provided a moment for reflection for the retiring incumbents, who had undertaken their leadership duties during the most unprecedented of years. With the School in lockdown when they took up their positions, then in bubbles and zones, followed by another protracted lockdown, it certainly meant the boys had be resourceful and creative in carrying out their leadership roles.
School Captain for the year was Charlie Griffiths, who reflected: ‘My captaincy began in the comfort of my own kitchen. I got a scary email from my Head of Year about a meeting with the Head and accepted the role of Captain in my own clothes, with a cup of coffee and the building site of a garden behind me. After this, the senior monitorial team and I “sat down” with Mr Williams, our Head of Sixth Form, to discuss how different this year was going to be, with changes to duties, assemblies and external events on the cards. The first step was, of course, the WhatsApp group and the captains delegated roles to the senior monitors.
‘The first difference we encountered was our early start, taking up the mantle much sooner than usual, and getting to work recording speeches, assemblies and other public speaking events to be played during full-school Zoom sessions, and a Vote of Thanks to be played during Prizegiving to “see off” the old monitorial team. Due to the uncertainty of Covid, we were unsure what duties would be necessary when we returned to school in the Autumn Term and how we could carry these out.
‘At the start, we sat down with members of the faculty and discussed what duties were going to be reasonable and safe to carry out with the new restrictions in place. With this, a timetable was drafted by Mr Williams and the monitors began their duties, ensuring hand-washing was carried out when re-entering the building at lunches and breaks and that pupils in intervention rooms were behaving.
‘Whilst we were not as directly engaged with monitorial duties this year as in past years, we spent a lot more time pulling strings behind the scenes, for example Thomas Higham’s sterling efforts with organising the assembly rota for Zoom and in-school “thoughts of the day”. Mr Britton remarked that despite the fact that we had not spent as much time completing duties in school as other years, arguably we have had many more “public appearances” throughout school and I’m sure our faces will be remembered much more than in previous years.’
Vice-Captain Thomas Britton gave his perspective: ‘In many ways, this year hasn’t been altogether unusual in that a good proportion of the major school events – Prizegiving, the Tillotson Lecture, full assemblies, The Young Musician of the Year competition - have been able to adapt to a virtual setting whilst also providing a major source of stability in school life. For example, I gave the Vote of Thanks at the Tillotson lecture, which took place via a Zoom webinar, and it didn’t seem too different than when I have watched previous Vice-Captains do it in the past. I think the major change, however, has been not being able to see the members of the school we are supposed to act as role models for - it is a rare occurrence to see pupils from lower down the school, which is somewhat sad, as it breaks down a sense of school community. It has also been rather strange recording ourselves speaking alone in our rooms for various assemblies and events, which usually have a fairly large audience. Nonetheless, it has been a pleasure and an honour to be part of the School’s leadership team this year.’
Senior Monitor Thomas Higham, offering his thoughts, said: ‘My role has remained largely unchanged. During this academic year, I have been in charge of organising the monitors’ “thoughts for the day” at the start of assemblies. I was keen to have this role as I thought that well-chosen words of wisdom from older boys would be more important than ever for the younger years, particularly over lockdown when they may not have had a great deal of human interaction. The ability to host live webinars on Zoom has been key in allowing the monitors’ speeches to be given from home. I wouldn’t be surprised if the lockdown has enabled me to convince more monitors to speak in assemblies than would otherwise have been the case, if for no other reason than that this year the audience has been replaced by a camera. I’m very pleased with the consistently excellent “thoughts for the day” that the monitors have given and I hope that the foundations have been laid for such speeches to be given as regularly in the years to come.’
In considering the past year, Nathan Burudi said: ‘This year has been unlike any other. As a senior monitor, I had a responsibility to help introduce new Year 7s to the school through a video, within which I spoke about friendships and how they formed in the first year of high school. I also tried to emphasise the importance of extra-curricular activities in one’s introduction to the school. My role within the team was intended to be internal events, however with COVID meaning the “bubbling” of the year groups, I wasn’t able to carry out this task. As a senior monitor team in a year of the pandemic, we didn’t have that many opportunities to work together. However, a highlight of the year was when we all signed a petition for study leave during the September exams. That feeling of teamwork and a collective goal was quite uplifting, and I was very glad to be a part of it.’
Headmaster, Mr Britton, added: 'I have been immensely impressed by how adaptable and resilient the boys have been in their leadership. Rather than focus on what they could not do, they have thrown themselves into what was possible and, in doing so and by example, have provided terrific leadership for other boys in the school.'
For the next academic year, Ali Ahmed was named as School Captain with Finley Littlefair and Matthew Mair announced as Vice-Captains; Jack Swires, Thomas Martin, James Hopkinson and Amin Patel were named as Senior Monitors.
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