We’ve all needed headspace and perspective after the rollercoaster of the last few years. The TV travel commercial featuring that most catchy of pop choruses by Jess Glynne sums up the sentiment pretty well. Ready for this? Absolutely. We’ve all needed to refill our glasses and top-up our positivity.
- A global pandemic.
- School closures.
- National lockdowns.
- Remote learning.
- Reopening schools with distancing, face masks and mitigations.
- Covid related staff absences.
- Learning loss recovery.
- Increased well-being and mental health issues.
We have certainly ridden a rocky ride in recent times in schools. For many teachers and school leaders the 2022 summer break has been the first real opportunity in years to take a step back and regroup.
And as the new school year begins to get underway, the C19 hangover remains but is joined by new challenges of equal magnitude. The cost of living crisis will have huge impacts on schools in 2022-23 both at pupil and staff level. Energy prices, shrinking school budgets and rising poverty will pose massive dilemmas for Headteachers and SLTs. An unfunded pay-rise for teachers will only compound the difficulties schools face; and the rises themselves are insufficient in the eyes of many. Industrial unrest looms large on the horizon.
Somehow all of these issues will have to play out alongside the myriad of “normal” initiatives and workstreams that seem to have shown no lack of existence despite the heavy backdrop described above. In England, OFSTED is back with a vengeance and in the Isle of Man, where I work, a new quality assurance and inspection framework and process is due for implementation. Massive stuff.
And let’s not forget the bread and butter; the really important and essential ingredients of lessons and learning and children and progress.
As I stood on the boardwalk looking out to sea across the Mediterranean the other day, I felt thankful for my holiday. It had given rise to many unforced moments of thinking about school whilst resting on a sun bed or floating in the sea; the holiday had provided space and given me some real clarity of thought. To-do lists, strategic thinking, ideas and plans have left me feeling reinvigorated, refreshed and recharged; ready for the new school year and all the challenges it brings with it.
Dare I even say I feel optimistic. Not necessarily that all will be solved, but at least in that I’ll be in there, in the melee and making a difference.
These times call for optimistic leadership.
They also call for rested minds which are sharp and alive to the challenge. That’s why the holiday period should be cherished. All of us in education use it differently: whether in school, out of school, wfh, not working, holidaying, prepping, tweeting, planning… the choice to use the time as one sees fit is as personal as it is important. However you’ve used it I truly hope you are feeling ready for what will undoubtedly be a huge year in our schools. And I hope you carry some optimism in your hearts. You really do make a difference. Do it right and as Jess G says you’ll be ready for a summer holiday all over again next year! All together now: darling hold my hand….