No amount of leadership 'training' really prepares you for happened this week. Don't get me wrong - we had planned for closures of all types: lack of staff, positive COVID case, full closure, bubble closure and so on. But leadership isn't just about scenario planning, it's also about setting the tone and taking on responsibility. Leaders step forward in a crisis and step back when things are going well. It transpires that I have 60 leaders at LECA. When we made the difficult and complicated decision to close the Year 10 bubble, the staff at LECA were outstanding. From managing the students going home, to thinking on their feet to keep the others busy in classes, to planning the rest of the day in mini bubbles; it was a mass group effort of fantastic leadership which kept the school going. Not only that but those leaders, at all levels, also pulled together to plan the home learning and the in-school learning for the following week. I could not have been more proud of the LECA team.
Coming into school on Friday was strange. Normally the dining hall is buzzing with Year 10s by 8.15am but on Friday it was eerily empty and quiet. In the form groups, students settled in for the day. This would be their classroom all day as we tightened the bubbles to just one room rather than three or four. It was a primary model essentially with students being taught by their form tutors with lessons provided to them by subject specialists. Hats off to our teachers - they were brilliant all day. I walked round the school during every period and period 2 really stood out. Almost every class was reading, either led by the teacher or by the students, and it was fantastic to see. Often reading drops off in secondary school as it competes with social media and gaming and other distractions, so it was lovely to see so many students clearly enjoying their class readers or individual books. Next week, the primary model will continue as we have so many staff who cannot be in. The timetable and curriculum is trimmed down but the learning will continue as normal and we've created a model which has something for everyone. Just a reminder that PE will be on Monday for Year 7, Tuesday for Year 8 and Wednesday for 9 so students should come to school in PE kit on those days only please.
Back to Friday and at break time Mr Tatham donned his hospitality hat and delivered drinks to staff. This is something we've offered since we re-opened and in recent weeks some students have taken this on and done it for us. On Friday, with numbers down, Mr Tatham stepped forward and I'm sure the staff were really grateful. Good work, sir.
We don't expect thank yous for doing our job but when someone does say thank you it really means a lot. During period 3 on Friday we received an email from a parent which I immediately shared with my staff. I won't share the whole contents or the sender but the over-riding message was thank you and well done for the way we responded to the mini crisis we faced. Who knows if we did the right thing (whatever that may be) but what is important is that parents, students and staff feel supported and safe. This email made us feel like we achieved that and it couldn't have been better timed. Thank you so much for taking the time to write to us - you know who you are!
Last week I wrote about our new National Online Safety platform that is available for all parents and students. It is brilliant to see parents logging into this already and I hope you've found it useful. If you haven't had a look yet, please do so. It is packed with resources and tips to keep you up to date with all things online and is a great site to use as family whenever you need it.
Finally - a word to our Year 10s. I am sorry we had to send you home on Thursday but I know you understand the reasons why. After so long at home this year, I am asking you to be determined and resilient and keep your eyes on the prize. Do not give up. Stay in touch with your teachers and keep going and you will not fall behind. Use all the resources you have at your fingertips to revise and embed the knowledge you will need in each subject. And finally, look after your minds and your physical health - speak to us if you need anything or just want to talk; that is what we are here for. Take care, stay safe and keep in touch.