Reflections on……..Opening our doors in a time of COVID

Reflections on……..Opening our doors in a time of COVID

8 September 2020

It is a challenging time to be in education at the moment. Since February, when news of this strange new virus started reaching us, schools have had to completely re-invent the way they have provided an education for their students and supported their well-being and safety. I have never been more proud of the profession I have worked in my whole career than I have been in the last seven months. The commitment, dedication, hard work and determination of Headteachers, leaders, teachers and support staff to do the best possible for the young people in their care has been extraordinary. Not unexpected, but extraordinary nonetheless. Against a backdrop of Government U-turns, changing guidance published at the very last minute often late at night, announcements made to the public before schools are made aware of what is required, schools have just got on with the job in hand. At each stage, new risk assessments and guidance documents have been produced, adapted to manage changing numbers of students on our schools sites whilst providing learning materials and feedback for students studying at home.

And now our schools are open to all students. It is a joy to see the schools busy again, full of young people learning together, socialising together and just enjoying being back to some sort of normality. The resilience and adaptability of young people is amazing – they are fitting into the new COVID-secure routines without batting an eyelid and just seem keen to get on with everything.

Across all the schools in our Trust, the start of term has been smooth, positive and optimistic. This has not just happened by chance.  The preparation and planning, the detailed arrangements for teaching, social time, movement across the site, arrivals and dismissals have been thought through in infinite detail. Clear arrangements, well communicated to all, combined with an agility to respond to issues as they arise in a cool, considered manner all ensure a sense of calm and confidence around our schools.

As I said, I have never been more proud of my colleagues.  Ill-informed comments in the public domain sometimes fuel a negative impression of those who work in schools. But anyone who has actually been in a school over the last few months, or taken the time to see what teachers and school staff were actually doing during lockdown, or understood anything of the work done to fully re-open our schools this term, will know that we owe a debt of gratitude to these frontline workers. The fact that our children are so happy to be back in their schools says it all.

Sally Lees

CEO, Tenterden Schools Trust