This one goes out to all school leaders, teachers, teaching assistants, office staff, cleaners, lunchtime staff, site staff and anyone associated with the safe running of a school…
School leaders’ efforts over the past year, and particularly recent weeks, getting to grips with the effects of a third national lockdown when everyone has really had enough of the shambolic government approach, have been incredible. A superhero effort in my opinion. To ensure that schools are safe for children and staff is no mean feat at all, but we don’t do it because we want ‘superhero’ status. We do this job because we see the value in developing children’s potential, nurturing their talents, giving them a better steer of who they are, harnessing their sense of self, teaching them with kindness and compassion the tools that will help them in their future life – whatever the world looks like when they
We want our schools to be open to all. We always have done. But for now, our schools can only be open for vulnerable children and children of critical workers. For how long this time, who knows? However, we must recognise that teachers are still teaching! Ingenuity has been stretched to the limit to ensure that teaching is as close to what would happen in the classroom as it can be. Teaching staff have learned so fast since the last lockdown about what works and what doesn’t. This time we want to make sure no child is left behind, whether they are at home or in school, and teaching has to be as inclusive as it can be – be it live lessons on Teams, YouTube videos, project packs and ensuring all their pupils are engaged and safe by regular phone or online contact.
This article isn’t aimed at trying to score points for schools, or twist or even understand the science or the crazy politics. We play the hand that we are dealt and try to control the controllables; this is what school leaders have been doing for months. Union support has been, in the main, fantastic. The drive is never to strike or to close schools, despite what you may read in some of the trashy newspapers. People in the teaching profession aren’t lazy; they just want to be treated with the same kindness, compassion and integrity that they provide to their teams of people, be it adult staff teams or children in
The simple aim of this first-hand account of the recent, challenging times (first hand to a degree – in my role, I am partially working from home at the moment – huge guilt there, to be honest, at times) is to quite simply let you know that recent decisions for school leaders, teachers and all staff in schools have been really bloody hard. I couldn’t be prouder at the moment – I watch with amazement and admiration as our leaders battle their anguish and inner demons to do what is right. The turmoil, anger, fear, sheer upset, hysteria, disbelief, huge responsibility weighing heavy… but all underpinned by a determination to do what is right for our schools and communities. And, believe me, it’s been rough and tough.
And this I know. We don’t want plaudits. We don’t want to be seen as superheroes (hence the intended sarcasm of this article’s headline). We don’t do this for the gratitude. Conversely, we don’t want to be battered in the press. We don’t deserve to be viewed as lazy or unwilling. We don’t want to be put at unnecessary risk.
Who knows what is ahead? What I do know for certain is that all the school leaders who I have the privilege of knowing, working alongside, being married to (!) and supporting will continue to make decisions that are right for their school communities – children and staff alike – and I couldn’t be prouder of the dignity and integrity that continues to be shown in these most trying of circumstances.
Go well, people. Go well.
The Nene Education Trust is a multi-academy trust in East Northants. NET’s schools include Windmill Primary Raunds, Stanwick Primary, Newton Road School Rushden, Raunds Park Infants, St. Peter’s CE Junior, Woodford CE Primary and Manor School Sports College.