A year in the life of a school

Week 9: A Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster of a Week

In the ninth of an ongoing series of blogs for the 2021-2022 academic year, Executive Headteacher Max Kelly captures his week working in primary schools in the Isle of Man. As the year goes on he hopes his blogs will paint a picture of a “Year In The Life Of A School”….

Monday 8th November

In a rare moment of appointment-free bliss, I am able to work from home for the first couple of hours of the day. It’s just the start to the week I need: I had managed to fall far far behind with my emails and my to-do list of itty-bitty jobs was long and growing. Pouring a cup of coffee and working through all of this helps enormously, and by 10am I feel much more under control again.

Into Laxey School for a meeting with some parents before covering a lunch duty to help keep a bubbling young person calm and positively engaged.

My next meeting is at Dhoon School but between the end of lunch and trying to get away, every man and his dog seems to want to catch me about something or other. Maybe this is the other side of the coin for working at home this morning..

I message up to Dhoon to say I’m running behind, before jumping in the car and making the drive along the coast to my other school. Steve from Rahmqvist is already there for my next meeting. It’s always good to catch up. Yesterday Everton had played Tottenham in the PL which I had watched on TV. Steve tells me he was at the game, but from his descriptions it sounds like he’d watched a different match to me. Despite his affections for the Toffees he usually comes up trumps, and does so again with some air filtration devices which I decide to buy to enhance our school C19 mitigations.

The SLT from both schools start arriving for our Federation Steering Group Meeting and the agenda today includes some general info, an update on the curriculum project, a budget/finance update and a discussion around the ‘disagree and commit’ principle with a look at some work inspired by a few blogs and resources that have cropped up on #EduTwitter including by Nick Hart and Alex Rawlings.

My phone flashes at around 6pm to tell me that Si, Cam and Johnathan from RockKidz have made it to the Island. I watch a video they tweeted from the deck of the ferry. I hope they’ll be OK for tomorrow!

Tuesday 9th November

Into school nice and early to await the arrival of RockKidz. I first encountered RockKidz through a Chris Dyson tweet way back in Lockdown #1. We looked at some of their online resources, took part in a free lockdown trial with their content, and spoke over the phone a couple of times. I knew they’d be great for us in the Isle of Man – I hadn’t seen anything like it before: resilience, well-being, PSHE, anti-bullying, positive self-esteem… all powerful messages brought to life through the medium of high energy dance and rock music.

You can see my interview with local news platform Gef here:

Interview with Gef.im

I knew they’d be good, but seriously, RockKidz were lighting up everyone’s day. Apart from the great addition to our usual curriculum offer, the by-product of smiles on faces and a lifted morale around the school were the bonuses you can only dream of as a senior school-leader dealing with the C19 mitigation’s, C19 anxieties and winter illnesses/staff absences that have been the hall mark of this term.

Like everyone else, I go home happy.

Wednesday 10th November

Today it was the turn of Laxey School to get the RockKidz treatment. I just enjoyed spending a day with children yesterday with few other meetings or paperwork, and I plan to do the same today at Laxey. It’s another triumph and some of the feedback from pupils, parents and staff was music to my ears – “best day at Laxey School for a long time.” That really is saying something because we have so many top days in our school!

I took part in the “Air Guitar Battle” – but was robbed of victory!

Late afternoon and I meet with our Federation-wide “Communication Improvement Task and Finish Group” which has been looking at how we can become even more efficient and effective with our internal comms systems. This has included auditing current practice, reaching out to the staff team for their views and suggestions, and considering new methods and techs for improving what we do. It’s been a great workstream and has seen us move towards MSTeams, revamp our weekly staff bulletin, produce communication flow-charts and iron out a few long-standing frustrations. The group believes it will be ready to bring a recommendations paper to our next Steering Group meeting.

Thursday 11th November

It’s Remembrance Day and the start of four services which my two schools will be involved in. Both Schools hold a service in school which are led by myself, local clergy and our pupils, and both schools will represent themselves at their local church services on Remembrance Sunday. I feel it is so important for this generation of children to stop, reflect and remember those who gave of their lives in previous generations.

Introducing the Dhoon School Remembrance Service and welcoming Nigel Cretney from Dhoon Church to lead.

Today is the turn of Dhoon School to hold its in-school service and Nigel Cretney of Dhoon Church arrives to lead proceedings. Although I’m at Dhoon today, Laxey will still fall silent for two minutes at 11am and will stage their service tomorrow.

Friday 12th November

It promises to be the busiest day of the week so I get into school nice and early. First up is the Laxey School Remembrance Service and I pop into the sports hall to see that my wonderful staff team have everything set up and under control.

The stage is set for the Laxey School Remembrance Service.

Guests start arriving almost from the get go and it’s a pleasure to welcome the President of the Isle of Man British Legion, Steve Rodan, along with my Chair of Governors and we’re even joined by some local dignitaries – Captain of the Parish Stephen Carter and Garff MHK Daphne Caine all attend.

Introducing the Laxey School Remembrance Service to a packed hall.

The children do a blinding job and the service includes songs and poems they have written. It is fitting, respectful and very moving.

After the Service I catch up on some signing and admin work before a working lunch with a HT colleague. It’s straight into the Laxey Celebration Assembly and from there a race up the road to Dhoon to make their High Five Assembly. These celebrations of children’s learning are always the highlight of my week – although RockKidz has pushed hard for the “highlight of the week” title this week!

The day finishes with the usual end of week promos and comms on our school website and social media feeds.

I head home, happy with what feels like a good week behind me.

Saturday 13th November

A few days of unbridled joy with the children has meant there is another backlog of emails and paperwork. I get up early and drive into Laxey School and spend a couple of hours at my desk catching up.

Sunday 14th November

Its a busy day with two Remembrance Services to attend on behalf of my schools. The morning sees me attend the Maughold Church Service to represent Dhoon School and in the afternoon I’m at Lonan Church to represent Laxey School. I tweet: “Four poignant and respectful Remembrance Services across Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday. So important that Dhoon School and Laxey School play their part and that this generation can remember the sacrifices of others. Proud of all my pupils as always.

They say it is always beer-o-clock somewhere in the world. In Max’s world, I managed to slip that in too. A really busy week which extends into the weekend. I can’t help but feel proud of my schools, and positive about the week ahead.

Processed with Focos

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