Firstly, I must apologise for not writing a blog; I have always tried to use this as a personal account of running the school, and the truth is that my time management has completely gone out of the window in the last few weeks. It is a strange world when you have no control of your diary on a daily basis beyond the regimented moments of being on the Year 10 corridor for lesson turnover, and the numerous duty point rotas through the day. I will be very open here and say that it has wrecked even the slightest sense of sleep pattern that I had left! What I know, is that it must be showing as various staff keep dropping me chocolate and other food supplies off to keep me going.
In all seriousness, this is simply the greatest challenge we have faced in our professional careers, and I want to, very publicly, thank all my staff for their contributions. We are continuing to pull together to make the best of the situation, and learning to adapt all the time. Last night was our first online parents evening, we now have lessons where students are in school and staff at home (there is always an adult in the room), we have lessons where students at home and staff in school, and even lessons where both staff and students are at home! That is how far the school, and the education profession, has come in the last 9 months. We will keep improving and reacting to the challenges this pandemic throws at us, and with the wonderful team of staff here, we will do our best to support the students through these times. I think it will be very interesting to see which features will survive beyond the pandemic, and as one student quipped yesterday “with all these online tools, we will never have a snow day again!”
My view on these changes is that, at this moment, they are necessary; that does not mean they are desirable. It also does not mean that we will get every decision right – as I have said before these are completely uncharted waters – and I thank the overwhelming majority of parents for understanding that premise. To return to the first paragraph, any number of events can affect our planning at the moment (staff absence, staff isolating, Covid cases, tracing contacts of cases in school etc), and therefore I perceive our job as mainly about trying to maintain as much normality as possible as the goalposts around us change.
It feels odd at the end of autumn term not to be thinking about events like prize giving and senior citizen Christmas parties, but we are trying some different community events this year. The charity drive around Race for Life (all students and some staff will participate: https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/marshalls-park-academy), the poetry for the senior citizens that is being written, the food bank donations, Christmas jumper day, and many things alongside will help generate an end of term vibe; equally we must remember this has been a very difficult year for so many families with bereavements, furlough, unemployment, bankruptcies, and the mental health strain on family life.
I rarely count down the end of term, it tends to creep up on me; this year is different. I have said to the staff many times in the last 9 months, we just take one, half term at a time and then recuperate. We have no idea yet the impact of the freedoms we will experience over Christmas, and what the effect will be in January. However, I doubt many of us will fondly remember 2020! In the meantime, we carry on working until the 18th, and I will write more formally next week.
Have a good weekend, and enjoy the mad rush of Christmas shopping if you still go to the high street!