A year in the life of a school

Week 30: This Is Me

In the latest of an ongoing series of blogs for the 2021-2022 academic year, Executive Headteacher Max Kelly captures his time 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”….

Nationally, this week was “Mental Health Awareness Week.” In my federation of schools we wanted to mark mental health week, but we also wanted to stretch into areas of the human condition. As such, we planned a special week to highlight and support children’s mental health, well-being, emotional resilience; and to recognise and celebrate our differences, diversity and special unique qualities. “This Is Me” Week saw the return of Rock Kidz, workshops with comedic poet Ian Bland, a virtual visit from Grandad Wheels and special assemblies led by mental health charity Isle Listen. Here’s how we got on…

Timetable of events for the week across both schools.

Monday 9th May 2022

The start of “This Is Me” week in my federation! Today starts early as I take a detour to a hotel in Douglas to pick up performance poet Ian Bland who is going to be working with me for the next couple of days.

Max with poet Ian Bland outside Laxey School.

At Laxey School, Ian launches the week with a wonderful whole-school assembly that has everyone fully engaged and laughing away. It’s such an uplifting start to This Is Me Week.

Ian starts delivering workshops with each class across the school.

Ian Bland delivered workshops with all classes at Laxey School throughout the day.

At lunchtime a young man falls awkwardly on the playground during a game, and we take the decision to send him home because he’s complaining about the pain he’s in 😢

As lunchtime comes to an end I jump in the car to head over to Dhoon School to see Rock Kidz who are launching the week for my pupils there. Loads of energy in the hall, and it’s clear that everyone is enjoying the show and learning some key messages too.

Rock Kids rocking out with the children at Dhoon School on Monday.

We hear about the young man who went home at lunchtime… apparently he’s broken his collar bone and will miss school tomorrow.

Tuesday 10th May 2022

I swing by Ian’s hotel and take him to Dhoon School for him to repeat his magic there following the success of yesterday’s visit to Laxey.

Ian Bland delivered his workshops with all the pupils at Dhoon School on a busy Tuesday!

This Is Me Week continues to deliver, and once Ian is all set up I head over to Laxey to spend the morning with Rock Kidz who are based there today.

Rock Kidz had an absolute blast with all of the children and teachers at Laxey School on Tuesday.

Unfortunately one of our diabetic pupils finds that their blood sugar isn’t playing ball and needs to go home (we find out later this involved having to go to hospital.) With yesterday’s collar bone incident this means that we now have two pupils who will miss their Rock Kidz session which is a real shame.

At lunchtime I whizz over to Dhoon School to spend the afternoon with my pupils there who are engaged in workshops with Ian Bland. Everyone is having an absolute blast.

We’ve arranged an after-school session for parents, families and children at Dhoon School which Ian leads. We have a great turn out from families from both Dhoon School and Laxey School – a lovely coming together of both schools in the federation.

An after-school family workshop involving children and parents from both schools in the federation proves to be a huge success.

Rock Kidz have kindly invited me out for dinner this evening and so I head into town to meet them at a Chinese Restaurant. It’s great to catch up properly with them and discuss some exciting ideas for their next visit which should shake things up a bit! Watch this space!

Out for dinner with Cam, Si and Jonathan from Rock Kidz (there may have been a beer or two as well.)

Wednesday 11th May 2022

I arrive at Laxey School nice and early and start setting up the tech for today’s virtual visit from Brian Abram aka Grandad Wheels as part of our continuing “This Is Me Week.”

I travel up to Dhoon School over lunchtime. My HoS’s office is a sea of pink balloons and flowers which my staff have set up because it’s her birthday… and it’s a special one. I’m very lucky to have such a good person as HoS at Dhoon and I’m always reassured that when I’m not on site, the school is left in her very capable hands.

I get set up for Grandad Wheels’ virtual visit to Dhoon School, and by 3.30 he has delivered a session to all of my pupils across both schools. A colossal effort by a great guy who highlights disability in an accessible way for children.

My tweet to recommend Brian (aka Grandad Wheels) to all schools.

After school, Gracie and I head over to the Ice Cream van that’s made a visit to Laxey and we have a whippy. Just what the doctor ordered!

The Ice-Cream Van pulled up outside school at hometime…. This counts as good self care and MH, surely!

Following some phone-calls with Rock Kidz we decide that we can’t leave our two Laxey kids who missed out on their sessions because of diabetes and broken bones. As believers in inclusion we can do better than doing nothing. Cam, Si and Jonathan make a surprise house visit to both chidren and gift them a Rock Kidz hoodie. It’s a beautiful moment and a highlight of #ThisIsMeWeek.

Rock Kidz make a surprise home visit to two of the Laxey pupils.

Thursday 12th May 2022

Today is the turn of mental health charity Isle Listen to come to the two schools as part of “This Is Me Week.” Steven Downward, Well-being Facilitator, leads an assembly at Laxey School before meeting the Pupil Council.

After a quick a photo shoot, Steven heads over to Dhoon School to do it all over again. It’s really important to me that the experiences offered in one school are offered in the other.

Late afternoon and I’m logging into a Zoom call with Ben Brown of EdRoundtables to discuss the model and learn more about it. It sounds as though it will be a great fit for me personally to help the further development of my schools.

Friday 13th May 2022

It’s a non-uniform day today with a green theme to round off “This Is Me Week” and raise awareness of mental health support as well as generate some cash for charity Isle Listen.

It’s wonderful to see so many children across both schools taking part!

Dhoon School tweet about “Wear Something Green Day” in support of Isle Listen.

Award-winning educator and LGBT+ inclusion in education advocate and the author of “Celebrating Difference- A Whole School Approach to LGBT+ Inclusion,” Shaun Dellenty, has prepared a special message for Laxey School and Dhoon School in respect of “This Is Me Week” and although we shared it at the beginning of the week, we use the opportunity in this week’s celebration assemblies to show the video to the children. We’ve been so well supported this week and I’m eternally grateful to everyone who contributed to make “This Is Me Week” such a success.

Shaun Dellenty’s video message to Laxey School and Dhoon School for “This Is Me Week.”

Away from This Is Me Week and I receive an email from NAHT HQ with the results of the ballot of Isle of Man members on the pay deal that we’ve negotiated with Isle of Man Government over several months.

The deal involves moving Isle of Man teachers into the London Fringe scale with an additional Isle of Man allowance on top of that. There are some commitments from the employer around workload reduction too.

The Isle of Man membership votes overwhelmingly in acceptance of the offer and although it’s been a long-process of negotiation, I am really pleased that our members have now reached an accord with the employer.

The week has been an incredible success, but it has been extremely busy. As always, there are plenty of other things that went on during the week which I have chosen to leave out of my blog for reasons of confidentiality – but suffice to say there have been three safeguarding matters; some private and personal issues involving my staff; industrial action in both schools; and a shed-load of administrative paperwork type stuff which I’ve had to keep on top of.

The week has passed by in a blur and I’m definitely ready for the weekend. They say it’s always beer-o-clock somewhere. In Max’s world, that time is now.

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