A year in the life of a school

Weeks 36 and 37: Making A Big Splash!

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 27th June

One of the highlights of the recent NAHT National Conference was meeting new colleagues. Sharon Wyatt and Kelly Jobber – Head and Deputy at Horns Mill School in Cheshire – were great colleagues to meet and today I’m delighted to welcome them to the Isle of Man to show them around my two schools. Opportunities to network and collaborate with colleagues across the UK, and particularly the North West region are very valuable and great moments from which to learn from one another.

Laxey School has scheduled in “The Big Splash” for this morning – a fundraising event for Hospice where the children take part in a paddle in the sea. All 220 children take part and a quick count of cash shows a headline figure of around £2k raised for this good cause.

Sharon and Kelly are good sports and join in the fun too!

Sponsored sea paddle to raise money for Hospice IOM – we pledged to raise at least £500 to take part in the Dolphin trail…. in the end we raised closer to £2k!

My evening is spent reading and signing end-of-year reports which are due to be published on Friday. I need to get all reports from both schools proof read, commented and signed by Wednesday to allow time for my school administrators to make duplicate copies and envelope them ready for sending home.

Tuesday 28th June

I arrive at Dhoon School early to welcome Ben and Jack from Blue Olive Productions who are shooting this year’s promo video / virtual tour which we have started doing each year as a prompt for our new families and new reception children to watch over the summer holidays. The idea is that the video will introduce the new children to some key adult faces they will see around the school, and help them become familiar with the school building and layout ahead of their official start in September.

We finish the footage needed on the Dhoon site before heading down to capture some film at Laxey School.

At 1.30pm I log into Zoom to lead a webinar session with my EYFS staff and Heads of School. We’ve invited our new parents to attend a live briefing where we can go through all the details ahead of the new starter visit days which commence tomorrow.

New Starters Webinar – Laxey School
New Starters Webinar – Dhoon School

Once again, my evening is spent reading and signing reports – but there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Wednesday 29th June

I’m up at 5am this morning and at the dining room table finishing off my final set of reports which need reading and signing. I’m relieved to get this job complete just before 6.30am.

Today is the first of our “Moving Up” days across the Federation where our children spend time in their new classroom with their new teacher for September.

At 9.30am I head down to the Reception class at Laxey School to help welcome in our new starter children who are making the first of their induction visits today. I’m conscious that the same is happening at Dhoon School, and I will have to be there to welcome those children when they visit again tomorrow.

Its a busy day with children in new rooms and new faces everywhere. At 4pm I head into The Hub on the Laxey site for this term’s Governors Meeting. Today we welcome a new face to the Board of Governors in the shape of Carol Glover who has recently been appointed to the Isle of Man’s Education Council and subsequently allocated to serve at Laxey School and Dhoon School.

Thursday 30th June

The day starts with an online gathering of the Island’s headteachers for a catch-up and update led by officers from DESC.

The second of our Federation’s “Moving Up” days gets underway, and I bomb down the road to Dhoon School to make sure I’m there to welcome our new parents and new starter children.

In keeping with this theme of transition, my Year 6 children are spending the day at their secondary school choice today, so although everything is calm and managed in my schools, there is a sense of everything not quite being normal with everyone all mixed up and all over the place!

I finish the day helping prepare some of the Laxey School reports into envelopes.

Friday 1st July

This morning I decide to accompany the Year 1 children from Laxey School on their weekly visit to our Forest School. Its just the tonic I need after a really busy couple of days!

Today is the day that both of my schools publish their end-of-year reports. I’m so impressed with my teachers who have made these reports so personal and so insightful. They look professional and will be lovely keepsakes for the parents. It is always a huge relief when they are able to be published as it is a huge job to tick off the list!

Monday 4th July

I begin my week in Laxey School. My first appointment is an interview on behalf of DESC for their teaching assistants supply register. The candidate is very good and I’m happy to accept her to the list.

After lunch I head over to Dhoon School where I am meeting a prospective family and I give them the grand tour of the school and our facilities.

Its a tightly packed diary today, and after my tour of Dhoon School I’m back in the car and off to Laxey for an appointment with Tim Crouch from Nexus to look at some of their resources.

Tuesday 5th July

The 5th July is the Isle of Man’s National Day – Tynwald Day – and as such it is a public holiday. All schools across the Island are closed, the sun is shining and I enjoy a day off at home. Unfortunately Steph goes down with C19, so can’t enjoy the day out with me and Gracie.

Enjoying Tynwald Day at Tynwald Hill with Gracie.

Wednesday 6th July

The staff from both schools, and particularly the SLT, have been working on a big update to our curriculum this year, and today the two staff teams are tasked with looking at the Cornerstones resources we’ve bought in and beginning the job of planning out the first theme for September. The new curriculum will take time to implement and embed, and I’ve decided to do this organically and through natural evolution rather than a strict “set-in-stone” approach which may well be too rigid as we start getting to grips with it.

Thursday 7th July

The alarm clock goes off at 4.30am this morning. I’m up and out really early so that I can meet the Year 6 children from both schools at the Sea Terminal in Douglas. Today I am leading a trip off the Isle of Man to Edge Hill University, in England, on an “aspiration trip.”

I’m taking two teachers with me and a parent volunteer along with 44 excited children. The 3 hour ferry crossing to the UK sets sail just after 7am, and we are blessed with good weather and calm seas.

The visit to Edge Hill University is FANTASTIC. What a great showcase of what University life has to offer and it gives my pupils an insight into one possible future pathway after secondary education.

Another smooth sailing back to the Isle of Man sees us dock at around 10.15pm, and by the time we’ve disembarked, handed all the children back to their waiting parents, and got home its about 11pm. A long day, but really positive and definitely worth it!

Friday 8th July

Today is our annual “Headteacher For A Day” event which is always a highlight for me. In the Autumn term we hold a raffle where children can enter to have the chance to take over as the Head For A Day in the summer term. This year’s winner, 5 yr old Esra, has decided that the school should have a “bouncy” day and has worked with some of our teachers to plan the day out. She’s organised bouncy castles, games, donut vans, ice-cream and an indoor cinema!

Manx media outlet “Gef” covers the day for us and generates some good local interest. The children have an absolute blast and Esra does a sterling job as the Headteacher. She even spends the day wearing my school lanyard! I wonder if the children will have me back??

Media coverage of our “Headteacher For A day” event.

Its a great way to round off the week, but unfortunately I start feeling unwell. I’m due at EDRT Conference in Birmingham tomorrow but I’m prevented from travelling. No beer for me this weekend. Hope I feel better soon!! Glad its the weekend!

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