A year in the life of a school

Week 31: What Goes On Behind The Bike Shed?

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”….

Monday 16th May

I arrive at Laxey School to start the week. Today the Y6 children from both of my schools are taking part in the annual island-wide Crucial Crew event which is being staged in Douglas.

The road closures which have featured so much this year in the story of Laxey School continue to impact and the children have to make their way up Minorca Hill by foot before being collected by coach which has already stopped off at Dhoon School en-route and picked up the Y6s from there.

Although the children are being accompanied by their class teachers on this trip, at lunchtime I jump into the car and head down to see them. One of the teachers is taking part in industrial action and has refused to look after the children when they stop to eat sandwiches, as this would constitute working over their lunchtime. So I’m there in part to make sure that the children are supervised appropriately, but actually it’s just a good opportunity to see the pupils and chat to them about their day so far.

After school I head off for a meeting of the NAHT’s local committee. Our Branch President is currently self-isolating so joins via Zoom. We make sure she still has the seat at the head of the table though…

The Isle of Man Branch President for NAHT is still able to chair our meeting 😝

Tuesday 17th May

For the past eight or nine weeks we’ve had a student teacher on placement with us at Laxey School. The student has been very good and really feels like one of the team now.

Today is their final lesson observation of the placement before getting their final report. I remember all this from when I was a student teacher myself! Nerve-racking!

Their PE lesson is a triumph and later their College Mentor joins us as we go through the final report. It’s a proud moment for the student, but also for me as I reflect on all the expertise and experience that my school has been able to pass on to the next generation of teachers.

Wednesday 18th May

I decide to start in Douglas this morning to work quietly on the risk-assessments that need to be completed ahead of next week’s Y6 residential trip. However, I start getting phone calls from Laxey School and it becomes evident that there is an issue with the alarms there. Apparently the alarm is sounding, the children are coming in, no one can deactivate the sound, and no one knows what to do.

A few phone calls later and thankfully everything is resolved. But my risk assessing didn’t progress quite as much as I’d have liked!

I head into Laxey School and after some catch ups and walk arounds, I drive up to Dhoon and spend the rest of the day there.

Thursday 19th May

My morning involves a meeting with an officer from DESC to discuss an HR matter.

Mid-morning, and some good news arrives via email. My staffing allocation for the next academic year is not being cut. Although I feel we need more staff, especially on the Laxey site, just to know we aren’t facing a reduction is a huge relief.

After lunch I head outside to our recently installed bike shelter and start to decorate it with bunting. This afternoon we will be having a grand opening ceremony, complete with red ribbon, ceremonial scissors, VIPs and speeches.

Isle of Man Government is really pushing “Active Travel” and the Active Travel Team at Government have been really supportive with us in the Laxey / Dhoon Federation. They’ve helped with our Active Travel Week way back in the Autumn Term, and they’ve worked with our school councils on a survey for the school communities. Now they’ve installed a cycle shed on our playground to help us encourage children and staff to cycle to school. (The clear perspex material also means we will always be able to see exactly what is going on behind the bike shed, too!)

Ours is the first of a planned rollout by Government to fit these shelters in all of the island’s schools. As we are the first, we get to go big with an official opening ceremony complete with visitors and media coverage.

Tim Glover MHK, Kerry Sharpe MLC (Manx parliamentarians) are the guests of honour, and we are joined too by Breeshey Harkin from the Active Travel Team. I invite our school council to come outside and represent the school, and afterwards they speak to the guests of honour. I am so proud of how well they act as ambassadors for Laxey School. The sun shines too, so it’s a great afternoon.

Adults L to R: Breeshey Harkin (Active Travel Officer), Tim Glover MHK, Kerry Sharpe MLC, and Sam Bowden (Laxey School Teacher)

Friday 20th May

I arrive early to Laxey School to make sure final preparations for our recruitment morning are all in place. We’ve recently advertised for a teacher, and had a lot of interest which we’ve whittled down to a group of seven candidates. This morning we’ve invited these shortlisted candidates into school to have a tour of the school, meet the pupil council (and face a mini grilling from them!), watch our Celebration Assembly and have an informal chat over a cup of coffee with the HoS and me.

The pupil council ask some great questions – some about teaching, such as “how do you make sure your lessons are always interesting?” and some which are more personal such as “tell us about your greatest life achievement.

Its a really good morning, and we’ll crack on with formal interviews next week.

I always look forward to Fridays for our Celebration Assemblies. I’m delighted today to have the privilege of being able to watch as my daughter is awarded a Learning Hero Certificate. She’s done so well this year – she’s had a Magic Moment Certificate twice, and a Learning Hero twice, so I’m very proud.

Mr Kelly enjoyed today’s #StaffroomInvasion with this week’s #LaxeyLearningHeroes

I end my day, and the working week, in Dhoon School. As usual, the afternoon involves sending out various updates and messages on social media – including last minute reminders and info to our Y6 families about next week’s residential trip. This is such a highlight of the year for the Year 6s and the culmination of their time in the Federation. I just know that they’re going to have absolute blast.

As usual, 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 ⬇️

The end of another busy – but great – week at Laxey School and Dhoon School.

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