Thank you to my staff

Dear Staff

Thank you for another year.

This school of ours seems to have become slightly eccentric; a bit noisy, a bit vivid, a bit wilful and bold in its ways. Perhaps it has always been this way; perhaps it is just Minch and the change I’m imagining is simply us giving into the inevitable and letting the current take us. Perhaps this is how it should be. Certainly if you look at the quality of the relationships in our school community and in the community beyond; the depth of commitment, the creativity and responsiveness, then perhaps there is an inevitability to this merging, this closeness of school and community, staff and pupils. I for one am proud of what we have become.

However, no one could deny that at the heart of this project is you. I potter about in my own sweet head, in my stuffy ivory tower – an appendage- but you, there at the coal face- I am in awe of you. Without you, without the quality of your interactions- your endless thinking, listening, explaining; without your many qualities- your kindness, your good humour, your courage and compassion; without your willing toil- this school would be nothing. I always maintain that children have a sixth sense for weighing up the ‘are they there for me’ question and will respond positively if they feel the answer is yes. In this school with a staff like ours I sense that positive response everywhere I go. Parents pick up on it when I take them around- it is something in the gut, something that doesn’t lie. It’s like watching a child break into a skip on the playground- they don’t do this unless they’re happy in that moment- it’s almost a physical impossibility. This is the feel of the place and this is testament to you, your relationships with the children, your endeavours day in day out. It is very beautiful thing you do- dare I say it without making some of you cringe- hell- I’m not in the habit of stopping- it is a thing of love.

Thank you for all that bring to the table and all that you do for our children; thank you for being you.

Have a glorious summer



Not a time for haste

And so suddenly here we are at the end of the year that was; another year that started and stuttered and discombobulated (sorry- I seem to have settled on that word). We seem to have (reaching for wood) come through these last weeks relatively unscathed (other local schools have not been so lucky) and for that we must be thankful. Let’s hope all is onward and upward going forward – that we can now rely on the better traction we have found with life and others and learning these last months- that at the very least. On the face of it, we’ve all done well- people have demonstrated resilience, courage, empathy etc etc in spades and the strength of community around here has reinvigorated my faith in humankind, (while we’re there- summer book recommendation – Human Kind by Rutger Bretman). However, as I have often said, I feel we should tread carefully because under the surface, not visible even to our own thoughts, there are some shaky foundations and some cracks in the walls. And wouldn’t it be marvellous or at least some consolation for what we have been through, if we managed to tread a slightly different path- for myself perhaps a gentler one and less of a race. I want to give your children time, willing attention and positivity; I want my teachers to enjoy their jobs and enjoy their pupils. I don’t believe it is a time for haste; for quick fixes and government targets. We should instead take a deep breath, appreciate all we have and move forward sensibly and humanely.

Hard to measure does not equate to less important

This week I have seen some written work from some of my younger pupils that has made me feel reassured, heartened. I was shown work from this week to be compared to some work from 4 weeks and 6 weeks ago. The progress was remarkable. About 6 weeks ago when I sat with one of the school’s external partners and looked at the school’s internal data, concern was voiced that our younger children were behind- that’s behind where they would have been (obviously) but also behind where other schools were. My response to this was a sanguine shrug of the shoulders. If we have spent a bit more time re-acclimatising our children emotionally and socially, then of course their ‘data’ might not be as presentable but their wellbeing and, by the by, following on from that- their academic progress -would ultimately benefit. Now I am not suggesting miracles here- we still have a way to go but I am certainly not concerned: young children’s brains have a great deal more neuroplasticity than our brains; my staff are committed and know what they’re doing. The pattern here is country-wide: children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 have been academically affected the most. As I stated last week- the further you go back in a child’s education, the more formative and critical the time and the learning become so this pattern is not surprising. However, they are well able to recover, especially so if we prioritise tending to their personal, social and emotional needs properly and appropriately. Just because reading, writing and maths are easier to measure- this should not be an excuse for those of us in education to ignore the rest of the child.