Lockdown diary. A week in the life of…

12 Jul 2020, 5:00

Students bring vitality back to school but there is precious little certainty about the future for independent school headteacher, Allana Gay


Monday 29 June

Being with each other brings vitality back into the building

The final piece falls into place. After rewrites, reconsiderations and reviews, the timetable that brings all our class groups back is in motion. With 90 per cent of our pupils on site, the main challenge is to navigate them around safely. Luckily it’s a small school and our conscientious parents ensure their children understand what they have to do.

Parents are smiling rather widely as they drop the children off, clearly relishing their new-found freedom. Although our collective moments are temporarily banned, being with each other brings vitality back into the building. Masks, sanitisers and handwashing are all in place, and the new rules don’t seem to have dampened the school’s joyful spirit.

I cross my fingers that all runs smoothly. Two weeks to go. First I’ll just have one final check of that playground timetable!


Tuesday 30 June

Summer holiday arrangements. Hmmm… I have already made them!

Teaching is the highlight today. Class 5G, as they are now called, are discussing the contrasting experiences of Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole in Crimea. With everything that’s happening around them, their discussion draws in modern experiences and their curriculum. I always enjoy these classroom moments – but they still could not name a black British civil rights leader.

The day passes as a blur when I’m teaching. Soon enough it’s back to the office for the daily check of DfE announcements. Summer holiday arrangements. Hmmm… I have already made them!

A virtual governing body meeting crowns the day. Good feedback, lots still to be done, and a few questions about September to which the only response is still “I don’t know if we can yet”.


Wednesday 1 July

Class 6 is filming scenes of their fashion shoot… Oops… leavers’ video

An in-school, out-of-action moment as I begin my MA with a virtual induction day. I like being able to balance my work day with time out for my own learning.

The school flutters with students surprised each time I pop out of the office. Class 6 is filming scenes of their fashion shoot… Oops… leavers’ video. Considering the experiences they have missed in this final year, it is heartening to see the smiles. There are questions about water-fights and barbecues, but I’m not sure I can risk the social gathering, even so close to end of term.

A junior student suggests we stay non-uniform forever. Give them an inch…


Thursday 2 July

Once in a while a plate drops

The in-tray keeps growing. I pass the revised timetable to the art therapy lead. “Any more changes?” she says with a laugh. That has been the way over the past few weeks: implement, check, change.

The DfE’s next set of guidance on September opening is ready by evening.  No doubt it will refer predominantly to mainstream schools, but the amount  dedicated to teaching fish how to swim never ceases to surprise me. Naturally there is another funding announcement that the independent sector cannot access. Quelle surprise! I wish I could explain to a senior aide that we are not all Eton and have remained open and teaching, like our state counterparts.

Back home, I realise I missed a phone call meeting. Back on to the laptop to apologise and reschedule. Once in a while a plate drops.


Friday 3 June

There are plans for September to put in place… And… And… And…

Student reports are flooding in and the senior leadership team is on hand to proof-read. There is palpable excitement around the juniors. The BBC is filming in school and they have the chance to be in the background, so they’re all practising their “calm-and-studious” face.

My mind whirs into the weekend. There are plans for September to put in place, yet so much of that depends on our parents’ businesses recovering. And I still need to finalise the class allocation notice. And write headteacher comments on those reports. And the summer provision list. And…

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