My experience of being a Headteacher during a pandemic
From my perspective, the pandemic has really shown how well people shine in the work place when put under extraordinary pressure and face the unknown. Reaching out to families and individual children to offer support using different and inventive ways has been a very positive part of this unforgiving time. Fear is a great mistress but stronger still is our will to overcome and make sense of the turbulence. Pandemic yes. Pandemonium no.
Prior to lockdown, teachers put together imaginative packs of work and our children eagerly beavered away for the last two weeks before the Easter holidays. While none of us realised just how long would be the absence from school or just how many different versions of our home learning would be created – akin to multiple software releases only these were tweaked to meet individual needs for, as ever, our small numbers throw up pupils of so many differing abilities. Some children’s learning has been acutely compromised by parental input whilst others have been nothing but rapacious in their hunger to complete the maximum amount of assignments. A group of steady plodders somewhere in between. Teachers toiled and refined. Other school matters still weighed heavily as we pushed through periods of COVID-19 blackness laced with fear. All dealings became online and the teaching workplace changed into one where children and adults alike were swept up in a digital landscape not explored before.
A crisscross of support engendered in this period becomes a school’s mainstay. Staff work diligently, quietly and provide positive solutions to seemingly tangled timetables and a potential staffing stand-off. The mist begins to clear and the next phase is embarked upon with a plethora of long government documents to read, local authority forms to complete, staff to reassure and governors to inform. The nation looks brighter but pockets of huge concern remain.
As half term ends our two schools are ready to set off on the next part of this long and intrepid journey, hoping to find a known normality at its end but aware that what we find we may not recognise. As we witness a pandemic that may or may not be on the wane, we can be sure that the spirit and goodwill in our school communities will remain resolute.