Teamwork is vital during this crisis

Monday April 20

Monday has been an eventful day. It should have been the first day of the summer term which it was for 14 pupils.

It started with an interview on BBC Radio Essex and finished with an appearance on BBC Look East on the subject of the re-opening of schools.

Over the weekend journalists were briefed “off the record” by some ministers about the possibility of schools reopening on May 11. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson led Sunday’s Government press conference in order to rule that out. He went further, announcing that disadvantaged Y10s would get laptops and connectivity. That is not a short-term measure. It would suggest schools will be closed for a while.

Continual speculation over schools re-opening is not helpful. All we do know is that the country is in lockdown for three more weeks and the situation will be reviewed at the end of that period. My position can be summarised as follows:

I believe that schools should re-open only when the Government’s five tests have been met.

We should wait to learn from other countries ahead of us on their road to recovery.

The real hardships and difficulties many families are experiencing should not be for nothing. If we rush to re-open schools we risk a second wave Covid crisis. This must be avoided.

The country is a long way off meeting those five tests. In the meantime all the staff at North will continue to do everything we can to provide a clean, safe environment for our key workers’ children, to provide remote interactive study programmes and to support children’s emotional health through a remote pastoral care network.

The rest of the day was spent in phone conversation with every teacher – 26 in total. This week they will be ringing every parent to keep in touch and check all is well with the home learning. All children have access rights to interactive learning platforms now and it is important that parents are confident with them. The teachers will speak to every child too, hopefully. It is a major logistical operation.

Teamwork at North has always been a strength and colleagues are working hard to maintain that spirit through group communication.

What teachers are finding is that although families are finding lockdown hard they support it and are appreciative of everything the teachers are doing.

Our parent body have the greatest respect for the teachers, rightly so. Some parents, apparently, were even suggesting that teachers deserve a pay rise. I am sure the teachers would not have made that up!

Wednesday April 22

These phone calls are bound to throw up some problems. 450 children, more than 250 families. What do we do if a teacher cannot make contact with a parent and they do not respond to emails either? Teachers are teachers, what if the family is really struggling? Are they qualified to advise or even able to help? Parents have been issued with a range of contact details – foodbank, housing, free school meal vouchers. Teachers can signpost parents where necessary. Beyond that concerns will be referred to me.