Friday 28th May 2021
Mr Eardley, the Head Teacher, writes...
Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope that you are all well.
I think that it is a peculiarity of this year that when we get to the end of a half-term or term, the phrase that pops into my head is, ‘Well, we made it!’ I don’t want you to think that I count down the days to every break, far from it. I sometimes lose track of where we are in a term and before I know it we are about to have some time off. I think the reason that I feel a sense of relief is to get to the end of a half-term without a COVID case or having to close a bubble. There are lots of positives to nearing the end of the Government’s Roadmap but I am mindful that COVID hasn’t gone away, it hasn’t disappeared. We have just been luckier than some local schools that it hasn’t made it into our school very often.
As lovely as it is to see you and your children at the end of the day, I feel that in recent weeks, some parents have taken the relaxation of COVID measures further than we want as a school. For example, there are parents who stand and have a chat on the playground even after they have collected their children. There are others who are happy for their children to play on the mound and the tyre play system, even though we have said that this shouldn’t happen.
As a staff, we are still deciding what next September will look like. I hope that we can have less of a staggered start and end to the day but I suspect that we will still have a bit of a mini stagger so that it can help alleviate parking issues outside school. What I am certain of is that we will still prefer for children to come onto the playground on their own in the morning. This is making a massive difference and it has been wonderful to see the children grow in confidence and independence. I have to smile whenever a FS child is proud to strut into school on their own and I am grateful that their parents have given them this opportunity and encouragement.
I am also certain that we will ask parents to avoid coming onto the school site at the end of the day if they can and that we will expect everyone to leave the site as quickly as possible. There are plenty of nice playgrounds and green spaces for parents to spend time together while their children play. I think what I am trying to say is that COVID measures have made us try some things that we might never have thought possible and we don’t want to go back to where we were before.
I sometimes feel a bit of a dinosaur in our school, having qualified in 1990! My staff looked incredulous this week when I told them that when I was at university, we were taught how to write on blackboards, how to create a stencil to pummel with the blackboard duster and that the height of presentation was to use different coloured carbon paper when creating a bander worksheet. I didn’t dare tell them that there was only one BBC computer in my first school and that I was the ICT wizard because I knew how to use Advanced Folio…on a floppy disc.
As much as I am pleased that things have moved on since then, I don’t regret that I started teaching at a time before social media. We regularly have to deal with issues where a minority of children have been unkind about one another, all behind the veil of social media. Sadly, it isn’t just children who turn to social media to vent their frustration. When I started teaching, the worst that I had to worry about might be that a parent could say some unkind things about me on the playground. At least then there would only be an audience of one or two. Now, thanks to the invention of a parent WhatsApp or Facebook group, parents can voice their opinions to a much wider audience.
We are fortunate that the majority of parents are very supportive and optimistic about the school. We regularly receive cards and emails from parents thanking us for the work we are doing. I know that this means the world to staff who work hard every day to give your children a positive experience of school.
But every now and again, I hear about unkind things that are said online about staff. This makes me feel sad. I could not imagine us having a staff WhatsApp group where we discussed parents and criticised them. If there was, I would deal with it through our Staff Code of Conduct and Disciplinary policy and the member of staff would be in danger of being reprimanded. A member of the LA once said to Heads that we should consider whether a decision we made would stand up to the ‘Front Page of the Daily Mail’ test; how would we feel if our decision was subjected to public scrutiny. I wonder whether some parents should think about how staff might feel if they were to see what is being said about them online.
Thankfully, your children go to a school where we have an open-door policy and are happy to hear about the concerns you may have. We also have systems in place to look into these concerns and then to get back to you. We are big enough and brave enough to admit if we have made a mistake and will take feedback on the chin. We are also willing to present the other side of the story that might contradict the one that you have heard. We are grateful to the majority of parents who contact us to talk about any matters that arise and seek to discuss things in a constructive way.
Meanwhile, I hope that you have a great half-term. My wife and I are heading off to Yorkshire for a few days and I shall be keeping my fingers crossed for a bit of warm weather!
Don’t forget, if your child is unlucky enough to catch COVID this half-term, you should email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can decide whether we need to take any action.