i Editor's Letter: Summer rituals


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The rituals of summer are upon us. Yesterday morning, as I walked to the station, I heard the booming loudspeaker of a local primary school's sports day. ("Well done, Year 4 girls!") . Today is my daughter's prize day, and next week the end-of-term school concert.

These are the events that mark the start of a season untrammelled by last-minute homework, lost PE kit, and – oh, jubilation – parents' evening.

Even if you are not a parent of school-age children, you can't help but notice. Suddenly, friends and colleagues seem more relaxed, less careworn. And then they disappear on the annual holiday.

For me, the school summer calendar has an extra poignancy this year. It is the last time I will attend prize day, or the school concert, because my daughter is leaving school. She's hoping (A-level results permitting, of course) to read music at Bristol University this autumn.

My son is four years older (he's just finished his degree), so for the best part of the last 20 years, my life has been dominated by summons to assemblies, or concerts, or school shows, or the annual chat with teachers.

It's odd to think that this academic underpinning will be absent from now on. How will I survive without the annual row over "suitable" school shoes, or the eleventh-hour dash to save a violin from being locked in a music department cupboard for six weeks? Very easily, I suspect.

What I will miss, however, is seeing not only my children, but others grow and blossom as they make their way through the school system. That's the true meaning of education, I think: to see skills and talents that pupils scarcely know they possess being nurtured. Emanuel School, it's been a privilege.

Stefano Hatfield is away.