Holding too tight, it slips through fingers; bearing too much, it breaks.
You know me, I’m tough, I’m resilient. There’s nothing rocks me. Ever. But see this tear here on my cheek. That’s new. Headteacher
15 pages of vacancies on the website. There’s usually 1 this time of year. Headteacher
I am a coach, a trainer, a mediator. I’m trusted in confidence to listen without judgement; to question with purpose and to challenge with integrity. Therefore I hear the unfiltered, the unmitigated, the hard facts and raw emotion of how it is in schools right now.
In 30 years I’ve never seen an educational landscape quite like this one. The ‘official’ pretense of normality and denial of reality within schools is damaging our greatest asset: our teachers and school leaders.
This is what I see; this is what I hear:
Schools deserving medals for their ingenious approaches to COVID catch up. Yet receiving only pressure to broaden the curriculum once more.
Leaders navigating the daily volatility of staffing and case numbers; being creative, committed, quick thinking. Yet treated as if nothing is amiss; as if we are back to normality.
Teachers remaining dedicated, skilled, caring, resilient; applying their craft to the diverse needs of nearly two years of learning disruption. Yet facing the uncertainty of workplace safety (COVID/no COVID).
Headteachers standing by their values in the midst of overwhelm and an onslaught of unnecessary pressure. Yet fearing inspection; anxious that they are not good enough.
This is what I see; this is what I hear.
Schools deserve inspiration not inspection.
Schools are worthy of empathy not unrealistic expectations.
Schools need kindness not criticism.
Therefore those who hold schools to account, at any level, should think first; think hard before any request, any demand, any policy and judgement. Test plans against four criteria:
- Will this protect and preserve the wellbeing, capacity and expertise of educators and educational leaders?
- Will this preserve and enhance the efficacy of a school?
- Will this enhance and empower educators to prepare children for 2030, 2040 and beyond?
- Is this inspirational? Is this empathetic? Is this kind?
Only act with four clear yeses. If you cannot act with four yeses, then do not act.
Loosen your grip, reduce the burden. Help schools be proud of what they have done; help them emerge from pandemic to the inevitable endemic with praise and with heads held high. And make your thank-yous for this, genuine, authentic and unconditional.
The NHS continues to save the present. Empower teachers to save the future. If we do not, that future will slip through our fingers; that future will break.