I have been a teacher now for almost thirty years and a Head Master for ten of those years. You get used to unusual and emotionally engulfing events, but nothing could have prepared me for leading a school during a global pandemic. The experience has been all consuming, emotionally draining, physically exhausting and has taken all my reserves of stamina, every last bit of energy and taxed my intelligence and ingenuity. In short it has been a bizarre term.
The first stage being ‘closure’ which took place when the school shut on the 20th March, two weeks before the Easter break. The second phase was the ‘planning’ stage. Planning for how to give our pupils the best learning experience virtually during these strange times. Now, we find ourselves in the ‘preparing to reopen phase’ which is currently focused on 11th August.
There has been no typical day for me during lockdown. My weekdays consist of going between being in the school where my day can vary from being with the children of key workers to organising fire tests and bin uplifts, or working from home where I have been focusing a lot of time on assessing how the school will function when we reopen. I have also been taking part in various different zoom meetings with the three leadership teams, as well as SCIS and HMC and making calls with other Heads to keep in touch with them.
Even as I write, I think back to yesterday afternoon, which was spent going through our planning checklist, risk assessments and all the paraphernalia of paperwork needed with the leadership team. But there was a moment for quiet satisfaction about how much has been done as I note that I have measured every classroom, worked out how social distancing will work for class sizes and discovered about PCC, non-statutory guidance and managed to get 4.5 stars out of 5 for communication in the parent survey. But what happened to that elusive .5 of a star? Look at what still needs to be done.
But there is that light at the end of the tunnel? Well, there are many hurdles to be overcome. So much has changed and the world will not be the same again, but some of that is no bad thing as I think we have become more conscious of being part of society, more caring towards other human beings, more aware of our environment and our planet, and more grateful for the little things. Pray that it will continue and keep us in your thoughts as we start to re-emerge as a real community, not just a virtual one.