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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Thank you

Such strange (or frankly weird) times we are living through – really hard just looking back a few weeks when our main preoccupation was learning to wash our hands to the point we reach now, where normality is a distant thought. Schools rely on routines, daily ones and termly ones, and as we approach what would have been an Easter break, it’s even an issue remembering which day we are on without those rhythms. As the national emergency gathered momentum school staff and leaders had to dig deep into their experiences, wisdom and instincts to make their decisions and protect their communities in a whirlwind of change. As I said in a rare foray onto twitter – ‘pretty sure all our schools in Nottingham were above ‘outstanding’ that week’. So of course the main message from all of us here needs to be a huge thank you for the manner in which you attended to that, looking out for the children and the school community. Hard to even contemplate that Friday (just a week ago) might be the last day for Y6, Y11 or Y13 in your school, and likewise for some staff leaving or retiring – but at some point we can all revisit and celebrate, and above all else we know there is a future beyond the constraining and confining. Meanwhile you were preparing for new ways of teaching and learning and trying to maintain ‘school’ despite not being in the building.

Looking out for your community has taken on a new meaning, we can’t have the conversation on a corridor, in a library or a classroom. We can’t see a face, even on a screen, to see genuinely how their learning is going, or the wellbeing of a pupil, but the creativity and effort to do the best has been immense – thank you again. We are all back to learning, learning new ways to do things, new ways amongst the chaos and whether we like it or not, some time to think how to do things differently. The profession has proven its worthiness and immense value these last few weeks and that will need sustaining so as you find new ways to work and support please, please look after yourselves. Personal concerns often take a back seat but this situation needs us strong for family and friends too, stay firm, stick to those core values. Easter is traditionally a time of new life, I recall as a small child after a very long hard winter (1962 if you want to know) looking out of the window in tears wondering if life would be the same, if life (as I saw it) would ever return to normal and Spring ever come. I found reassurance and hope from family and they were right it came. Challenging times remain for all of us especially the most vulnerable. Stay safe, as we all have to dig even deeper in this uncertainty, maintain the optimism and culture you promote in school which strengthens your professional and personal determination to do what’s right and what’s best. Your concerns but also your influences will continue for your school communities, thank you again for all you are doing.

My best wishes

John Dexter

Director of Education Nottingham City Council