Friday 5th February - a message from Binks Neate-Evans, our Executive Principal
We are very aware, following advance notice from Boris Johnson, that schools will not be opening before the 8th March, that families and children are under significant pressure. To be really clear, as professionals, we really are desperate to have children back in the buildings.
At this stage, with so many lives lost, I think it was the right decision. I am relieved that finally some advance warning is given and there is clarity, despite it being very difficult. It was desperately and profoundly sad to have reached a death toll of over 100,000 and to see this number increase. I offer my sincerest and personal condolences to any family that has lost a loved soul.
School leaders are working very hard to respond to any additional requests for places in school. I know they have communicated with you to ask that any places are used by those children for whom it is essential. We do have to be very cautious at this stage of the pandemic.
I get really positive feedback about the way you are adapting and supporting children at home, recognising the difficulties too. It's important we don't compare ourselves to others when our circumstances are different. You will do your best for your child. School must have that trust in their families. You have worked brilliantly in such a constructive way with our teams.
A little anecdote....... I saw a letter from another head teacher (not local) who had to write to her parents who were highly critical of teachers online teaching to tell them that 'if they felt they knew so much better than the professionals about how to teach they should perhaps take up teacher training'. Despite making my toes curl for lots of reasons it did make me reflect on how brilliant you have been. Thank you again!
Children's well-being/mental health
I think we all recognise that this lockdown has been very, very challenging for so many. Children's well-being and mental health has very much been headline news. I wholeheartedly agree that this must be a top priority for us. It is good to see that Boris Johnson is indicating there may some serious investment in this.
I would also like to encourage families to 'protect' children from and consider the constant news feed about children's mental health. I honestly believe the media coverage may exacerbate the problem. I do not think children should constantly have to hear about 'potential lost earnings' or that they will have 'less chance in the future'. Conversely, I would like us to be able to support and help our children and most importantly offer HOPE. I think it would be very helpful for children to see and hear from the adults they love and trust that things can and do go wrong AND we can be ok. Things will get better AND we can recover. This may include helping children to manage their feelings, grief and any loss. A fundamental role of adults whether professional or parent is to contain children and help them 'feel safe'.
Naturally, it is important that we 'validate' children's feelings and help them to be able to name and recognise feelings. We want children to be emotionally literate not push those feelings down or hide them. It would be wholly inappropriate for me to tell families how to parent their children. I am just offering a professional perspective of how we may be able to construct more hopeful and helpful messages for our lovely young people and their future.
The schools are already thinking about the curriculum for the rest of the year so it is designed to support children to bounce back. Reading will be a very big part of that and I urge families to prioritise this in a positive and enjoyable way.
I look forward to a time when I can see some of you on the school grounds again. Wishing you and your families a good weekend.