For me, the end of one year and the beginning of the next is a time of mixed feelings. I always take stock, looking back to see what I’ve accomplished in the year gone by, and on that score I have much to celebrate. The West London Free School opened in September, the culmination of two years’ work, and has proved to be a success. Children, parents and staff are happy and we’ve had over 1,000 applicants for our next 120 places. Much of 2012 will be taken up with laying the groundwork for our lower school and sixth form, both of which we hope to open in 2013.
But there’s also the inevitable sense of wistfulness. One of the oddities of having children is that they slow down the rate at which time appears to be passing minute by minute, with some experiences seeming to last for an eternity, such as waiting in Accident and Emergency after they’ve fallen off a climbing frame. But year to year, they contribute to the impression that time is speeding up. They don’t seem to grow up gradually, one small step at a time, but in leaps and bounds. One moment they’re pink little cherubs, toddling around in nappies. The next they’re hurtling across a football field with an insatiable appetite for life.
It’s hard to be optimistic about the year ahead. The Prime Minister has warned that 2012 will be the toughest year Britain has faced since the early 1980s, but I think that’s contingent on avoiding a disorderly break-up of the euro. Certainly, when the Chancellor announced in his Autumn Statement that he’d have to borrow £158 billion more than anticipated between now and 2015/16, that was on the assumption that Europe isn’t plunged into a depression.