The new normal

You’ve done it! You’ve made it to the end of this extremely long and challenging half term. Mostly you / we have done that without incident or injury. For that I thank you and I congratulate you.

As I reflect upon the last half term and how we’ve all had to work (be that staff, the children and young people or the parents and carers) I realise that we’re all now operate within a ‘new normal’. By that, I don’t simply mean just living with the cloud of COVID but that for us in schools, college and education what we now are expected to do and what we do over and above what the wider public would think was really our day job. That includes mass testing, weekly testing, mass vaccination programmes, responding on a daily basis to shift in expectations and policy from the department, whilst reinstituting all the great ‘additionals’, careers and post-16 / post-18 preparation events, extra-curricular sports and activities, charity work and collections, rewards events, parents’ meetings / evenings and on and on.

When we watch those beautifully drawn national adverts designed to encourage young people to enter the teaching profession we could convince ourselves that the art and craft, the real beauty (and it is an art, and there is a craft and it is beautiful work), teaching is all that the staff have to think about. It isn’t.

Whoever you are, whatever role you have, you have all played a significant, even critical role in allowing us all to prosper this term; be that in keeping the schools and colleges open, keeping the children and young people focused and supporting each other. Our institutions are not just about what teachers do in classrooms, they are also about that 360 support and care for children and young people and for the adults with whom we work and within our community. Every single one of us has a role to play and every single one of us is valued. 

It seems a lifetime away from those days in spring 2020 when we had to change everything we did to continue to operate. It seems incredible that those in education were being lauded as the 4th, or was it 5th, 6th emergency service. Many in our community take the service we offer for granted. That’s their right. Many of you don’t take what we do for granted. Occasionally, someone will say thank you, will offer some gratitude – those moments do bring usually real joy to us all, and I know that the Heads take time to share your words, compliments and appreciation with all staff.  Whatever public or private thanks we get does make a difference to how we feel about ourselves and our work, so once again thank you.

Sometimes we just need the silly to make us smile and wend us into the half term. From the legendary Milton Jones…

‘Hopefully, I’ve got a book coming out soon. Shouldn’t have eaten it, really’.

‘My aunt Marge has been so ill for so long that we’ve started to call her ‘I can’t believe she’s not better.’

‘I hate sitting in traffic, because I always get run over.’