A year in the life of a school

Weeks 38 and 39: That’s A Wrap!

In the final blog of an ongoing series 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 draws to a close he hopes his blogs have painted a picture of a “Year In The Life Of A School”….

Monday 11th July

I finished last week feeling grim; and so it has continued into this new week. I can’t go into school unfortunately- I’m so bloody annoyed to have got so far through the school year only to fall at such a late stage.

Unfortunately I miss Sports Day which is being held at both of my schools. The updates I receive on my phone make me happy, especially the ones about my little Gracie who has a successful day.

Gracie won four of her races at Sports Day at Laxey School.

Tuesday 12th July

It’s another wasted day for me as I am still not able to go into school. I cancel my scheduled meeting with the Chair of Governors and head back into bed to continue isolating from the family.

Wednesday 13th July

Feeling better today, but still off work. It means I can focus and concentrate again so I am able to work from home and catch up with emails and admin.

Thursday 14th July

Thank goodness. I am finally over it and can return to school.

I call into Laxey School first to catch up with everything that has been going on there.

Next stop is Dhoon where I’ve agreed to be a judge in this afternoon’s Dhoon’s Got Talent finale. One of the acts dressed as a clown and squirts me in the face with a water pistol; everyone enjoys this a little too much for my liking! 🤪

How was your day? Mine involved being squirted in the face with a water pistol whilst judging the school talent show !

Friday 15th July

The Pupil Council at Dhoon School have planned a fundraiser event at the school which involves roping in teachers to sit on a chair and have cold wet sponges flung at their faces.

Quite why I’ve agreed to this I don’t know!!

I end the week with cold wet sponges being flung at my head.

Still, it’s a fine way to end the week. The children love it, the parents watch on in delight and it gives us all a good laugh whilst raising some money for a good cause too!

Monday  18th July

The final week of the school year is upon us. It’s always a mixed-bag of emotions for me. On the one hand, I find it incredibly sad to have to say goodbye to my Year 6 children, but on the other hand, I know they’re ready for their next step and I have an overwhelming feeling of pride when I see what fine young people my schools have helped them become.

Today I’m at Dhoon School for our Leavers’ Assembly. It’s a mix of memories, reflections and presentations. I’m delighted to welcome Carol Glover, our Chair of Governors, to help make the presentations to our children. It’s a lovely occasion – but it’s the hottest day of the year so far and I won’t deny that it is a joy-filled moment to get home, get the shirt and tie off and jump into a cold shower.

Dhoon School Y6 Leavers’ Assembly 2022.

Tuesday 19th July

Back into the shirt, tie and suit. Today is predicted to be even hotter than yesterday, and the national news are reporting it as an extreme weather event.

I start my day at the Department of Education, Sport and Culture headquarters in St John’s. By 11am I am really starting to feel the warmth of the day, and I jump into the car and head to Laxey School.

This afternoon is the Laxey Leavers’ Assembly – another gorgeous event which finishes with the children singing an emotional rendition of Hall of Fame by The Script. I’m not sure there’s dry eye in the house! Once again I’m joined by our Chair of Governors, Carol Glover, to help me with the presentations.

Max Kelly with Chair of Governors, Carol Glover.

Later on, early evening, my Year 6 teacher, Head of School and I head out to the Mona Lisa Italian restaurant where we are treating our Year 6s to a pizza and ice-cream. A lovely way to round off the day. It’s home for another cold shower for me though – it was about a squillion degrees hot today 🥵

Wednesday 20th July 

Rev Jo has been a familiar face at Laxey School during my time as headteacher, and her association with the school far pre-dates my arrival. As the Vicar of Laxey she has always sought to be involved with the school – assemblies, visits, leading our Remembrance Services… she even joined us in our programme of live lessons in lockdown and carried on her assemblies over Zoom. To further underline her involvement with the school, Rev Jo has served as a school governor too.

Today though marks her final assembly at Laxey School as she retires from her role during the summer. I make sure I am there to give thanks on behalf of the school. Laxey really won’t be the same without her!

Reverend Jo Dudley (Rev Jo) last assembly at Laxey School.

Later, after school, I head to Ravioli House Italian restaurant in Ramsey where I’m meeting the Dhoon Year 6 teacher and the Y6 children for pizza and ice-cream. I can’t believe that we only have these children for two more days!

Thursday 21st July

In the hottest week of all time at school, a visit from the Manx Ices Ice-Cream Van provides some welcome relief! It calls into both schools and as an end-of-term treat we buy every child a Whippy. The staff may have got one too!

An ice-cream! Just the ticket in this hot weather.

Friday 22nd July

And now, the end is near, and so we face the final curtain.

I’m up nice and early and head straight into Laxey School. As well as our Y6 children graduating today, there are some staff moving on too. Miss Adams, one of our classroom support workers, is off to University in September to train to become a teacher. And Mr Clague has a promoted post as DHT at another school on the Island which he takes up next term. We gather for a final assembly and give these staff a good send-off.

I spend the final part of the morning walking through the school and saying goodbye to everyone, wishing them well for the summer. With that, I jump into the car and head up to Dhoon School to spend the afternoon there. Its always an exact 50:50 split on my time between the two schools on the last day of the year.

After 21 years of stellar service, Stella Goss is retiring. We gather together for a final assembly and give Mrs Goss a good send off. Dhoon School will never be the same again.

Farewell to Mrs Goss!

The Y6s on both sites leave school for the final time with a Guard of Honour, and as they head off into the sunset I confess to feeling very emotional. Like the teachers, I’ve invested so much into these kids – it’s a proud moment watching them head out of the school gates for the final time. I hope we’ve done them proud too.

Guard of Honour for our Y6s at both schools.

Suddenly it hits me. Exhaustion, relief, pride, sadness, happiness – a mix of feelings all at once. I decide its best to call it a day. Working across two schools is demanding work, but rewarding work. My job and my schools are so much of my life and who I am. It means everything to me. Our Welcome Video goes live on the school website for our new starters to watch over the summer: It’s a two-minute watch but says so much about why I love doing this so much.

Laxey Dhoon Federation Welcome Video 2022

I started this year with my two school federation. We’ve seen so much from face masks to road works; from C19 to off-island trips. Next year, the challenge will be different; bigger – with some exciting news to follow soon. So much to look forward to.

I hope you have enjoyed following this series of blogs over the year – every single week in school has been captured, and I hope it has given a good picture of what goes on in the life of schools! They say its always beer-o-clock somewhere in the world. In Max’s world that time has definitely come!

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