We were all excited to get back to School!
First Day Back Reflections
Having spent a huge amount of time in school over the summer, I couldn’t wait for the first day of term to arrive. I felt that along with an amazing site and cleaning team, together we had literally conducted the deepest clean EVER and ensured all environments were the safest they could possibly be. The schools I lead had literally undergone an extreme makeover. Painting, reorganising furniture, reading areas, displays, the list is endless. And now the back-to-school season was finally upon us.
So, it’s Wednesday 2nd September 2020. The first day of school after lockdown. That fabulous rush to make sure you get the parking space you love…and of course, have time to make a quick cuppa and set up your training.
There was a really wonderful buzz in the air. The school was alive again. There were a few reminders about social distancing; the temptation to embrace friends had to be resisted. All adorned their face masks and the first session, my session, welcoming all back and outlining the 13 paged risk assessment began. It took an hour to go through and seemed to go down really well. I have emailed it to all to scrutinise and critique before sending it to my governors. We all know it is a working document that will be frequently reviewed and edited according to needs and circumstances, and of course ‘new’ guidance that just appears every now and then!
During this session there were reminders about all the CPD that had taken place to make learning in our two schools even better. I only joined as the executive headteacher in April. The main new CPD was online training with Google Suite/ Classroom, Purple Mash, CPOMs and then the core subject training; investing in a new approach for teaching maths called Inspire, reading ones called Daily Supported Reading and Destination Reader and The Write Stuff by Jane Considine. Then the CPD for mindfulness and wellbeing from The Big Think.
My intention is to reduce planning by using such approaches so that staff have more time to focus on assessment and analysis of need, in order to address learning gaps. We spoke about feedback and I clearly outlined my expectations and simultaneously highlighted where to find support if needed. It was a positive start to the day.
After an hour(ish), we had a quick tea and biscuit break and headed straight into safeguarding training. My Inclusion manager led the most incredible session based around KCSIE2020 and highlighted the concerns and risks our community, in the heart of Tottenham, are facing. This went over an hour and staff were still smiling beneath their masks. She went on to cover Covid-19 safeguarding and procedures and policies to follow for support.
One of my Head of Schools led the CPOMs refresher training and left staff with a “How To” video she created, just in case they need help throughout the term.
We were all ready for lunch now. Spirits were high. Lunch was not our usual gathering in the newly formed staff rooms. Staff adhered to the risk assessment and ate lunch in their classes and or/ year groups- more commonly known as bubbles. I have grown to dislike the term bubble over the past few months!
I walked around in order to gage and levels of stress. Some staff were clearly still anxious yet not so much about our children’s safety, nor their safety, not even our communities’ safety, more about their roles, accountability and how we will fit in a broad curriculum and meet the unknown needs of our children. What a privilege it is to lead schools with such a compassionate staff! We employ councillors, we have invested in mindfulness and wellbeing approaches, we are working closely with our school nurse, what more can we do? I kept asking myself this question over and over again. There are some areas of planning that we will have to adapt once we have a clearer picture of what our children need. For now, I feel we have done and put into place as much as we possibly can.
Part of the afternoon was sent Epi-Pen training and then my Heads of School met with staff to reiterate the expectations of the first couple of weeks, of the half term and of the autumn term in its entirety.
Even with such a flexible, adaptable, empathetic, well trained staff, there are still some concerns. Yet we embrace tomorrow together. We work as one family. We do our best because our children deserve the best and more. We feel safe. We feel happy. We feel ready.
The training over the next two days is a mix of virtual and small group training on site, as well as allowing time for planning and preparations. Everyone was out by 5pm, most by 4pm. SLT left at 5:30pm. Today was a good day! #lovemyjob #SPAHstaffrock
Produced by Christalla Jamil, 04/09/2020