2020 Summer Term

The know zone

  • Care-takers
    Cait Cooper from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families highlights four ways school and college leaders can support staff wellbeing. More
  • Primary focus
    Throughout the lockdown period, ASCL's engagement with civil servants at the DfE and with other stakeholders has continued. Tiffnie Harris provides an update on some of the key issues affecting the primary education sector. More
  • Lessons learned
    Hayley Dunn highlights the lessons learned from implementing emergency plans in response to the current health crisis. More
  • September's Sixth Form
    As schools and colleges plan for their new cohort of sixth form students in September, Kevin Gilmartin examines the key areas that will impact on provision. In a time of such uncertainty, what should schools and colleges prepare for? More
  • A helping hand for further education
    Anne Murdoch highlights a new ASCL and AoC mentoring scheme to help develop personal resilience among college leaders and to empower them when faced with difficult circumstances. More
  • Weather the storm
    Before schools began to open more widely, we asked members to share their experience of the health crisis and here's what they had to say. More
  • Hitting the right note
    Principal Andrew Parkin joined ASCL Council five years ago and is a member of the Funding Committee. Here he tells us about his dedication to education and his love for music and singing. More
  • Rites of passage
    Seasons, traditions and rituals are important markers in our development as humans, but the lockdown means that - for some of our young people - the rhythms of life will skip a beat. More
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Before schools began to open more widely, we asked members to share their experience of the health crisis and here’s what they had to say.

Weather the storm

Reaffirming values

We often talk about values in our schools, ones that shape and define us. It turns out to be far harder to uphold and reinforce the values of a community that is closed and dispersed, when many primary goals in the form of public examinations are removed, and when learning is remote. Who knew?

As a remote leadership team during this period of closure we routinely took the time to remind ourselves of our values by sharing instances of when they were lived – through the inspiring or motivating effort and commitment of teachers, through positive parental feedback, through the lives of students who rose to the challenges and extraordinary circumstances that they faced. If we are not solely to exist in order to expedite an educational plan, then continuing this regular reaffirmation of our school’s values – our heads momentarily above the turbulence of an average teaching day – will be one of the benefits to emerge from its closure.

Nick D Gallop
Headmaster, Stamford School, Lincolnshire

Deep and lasting impact

Our school has a diverse intake and the two mornings spent delivering hard copies of work to students without ICT access at the beginning of the lockdown was certainly an education. In the majority of cases there was no obvious correlation between how students presented in school and the signs of deprivation where they lived. It also clearly showed that for many of our students, school will be seen as a safe environment, and it was sobering to realise where some students set out from each morning.

A future change will be to ensure that all new staff are taken around the area our school serves, as this has had a deep and lasting impact on me that will influence my work when school resumes.

Karen Gammack
Senior Assistant Headteacher, St Thomas More Roman Catholic Academy, North Shields

First thoughts

What always impresses me about so many young people is their thoughtfulness and social conscience. When the government announced that all schools and colleges would close, a group of our Year 12 students immediately thought more of others than they did of their own worries and uncertainties.

In those final two days at school, they arranged a food collection from the sixth form so that we could donate this to a local food bank. How wonderful that this was their first thought! In those early days, when panic buying was at its highest, we hope that this really helped families in Sheffield and the surrounding area.

Laura Mason
Assistant Headteacher and Director of Sixth Form, High Storrs School, Sheffield

Precious and powerful

There is encouragement among all this upheaval. We have weathered even worse storms, and we are learning that schools are precious and powerful communities.

My state school traces its roots back to the 13th century. We survived the Black Death. We came through the Civil War. Another school was evacuated to share our site in the Second World War.

Our classrooms are empty for now, but of course schools aren’t really made of buildings. They’re made of people, and our professional and personal relationships, and the stories we tell one another, and our rules, and the way we do things round here.

The culture and values that unite us now matter more than ever. Schools are an anvil that has worn out many hammers. We’re here for our pupils while we are closed, and we’ll be here for them when we reopen. Few things matter more.

Chris Pyle
Head, Lancaster Royal Grammar School

Navigating choppy waters

In July last year, the school that I am proud to lead joined a multi-academy trust, having been a single academy trust for many years prior, and the support, guidance and strength of that venture came fully into focus as the implications of Covid-19 were being realised across our sector. In late March, I sent an email to the CEO saying I would no doubt be rocking gently in a darkened room had the school still been standalone. The old saying goes, “I am not afraid of storms for I am learning to sail my ship”; I can safely say, “I am not afraid of storms for I am part of an armada.” The power of relationships, moral purpose and trust has never been so evident in our profession. Yes, we are navigating stormy seas but we are most definitely not adrift nor lost.

Ms Kathleen McGillycuddy
Principal, Broadoak Academy, Weston-super-Mare