On 20th March, we said goodbye to our students at the start of the national lockdown. Little did we know that day just how long this unique period in our history would last and how long it would be before we saw some of them again.
Uncertainty, apprehension and worry, a sense of fear and foreboding echoed throughout the school, mirroring that of society as a whole.
These have indeed been difficult times. We still do not yet know the impact the cancellation of exams has had on the outcomes for Years 11 and 13. We have all been put under strain like never before and we are dealing with the challenges of six months out of school for some of us.
Trying times indeed. And yet, as so often in the long history of our country, it is when we see the most testing of situations, that we see the best of our people.
We have certainly seen the best of our school during these times. We have seen all the facets of Thomas Gainsborough School that make this such a wonderful place to come together over recent weeks and months.
We have seen the best in our students. Those who have been working so hard at home, caring about their education, caring about their futures and so very clearly caring about the communities that they are part of.
We have seen the best of the children who have come into school too. From day one of lockdown, when 20 children of critical workers bravely supported their parents on the frontline of the fight against the pandemic by carrying on stoically and working hard with an exemplary attitude to their time at school. They have been positive and cheerful throughout and as these numbers have grown to over 70 since March, with the same sense of ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’. We are so proud of them all.
We have seen the best of our parents. It has not been easy to juggle all of the challenges that they have had to face whilst supporting their children with their learning so admirably. As Year 10’s and 12 have begun to return to school since June, it is clear just how much support they have received from home.
In recent weeks, we have met with the families of over 350 Year 7, 8 and 9 children and have been overwhelmed by the sense of positivity and engagement that parents have fostered with their children.
Also, the empathy parents have had for the school and staff as we have embarked on our learning journey through e-learning, video teaching and Google Classroom. We cannot thank you enough for all that you have done.
We have also seen the best from our staff. Those who volunteered from day one to continue to come into school to provide a positive experience for the children of critical workers and thought nothing of their own situation and the potential risks they faced. Not just teachers but also caretakers, catering staff and cleaners, student support and SEN staff who have all given so much time, not just in term time but also in keeping the school open through Easter and half term.
I must give a particular mention to the four members of staff who have not missed a single day in school throughout lockdown. I want though to also pay tribute to staff for the work they have done from home too. For many, providing work online has been a steep learning curve and the quality of this has gone from strength to strength.
Work has been provided for all students by teachers throughout and in many cases as they balanced their own childcare arrangements, alongside challenges we have all faced during this unique experience.
I am honoured to be the Headteacher of such a committed and dedicated group of people.
This article first appeared in the July edition of Portrait, the magazine of Thomas Gainsborough School.