It was wonderful to see our schools full again earlier this month when, in accordance with the national ‘roadmap’ all children were enabled to return – re-joining their classmates, vulnerable and key worker children, who had remained in our schools throughout. 

This return, like so many of our activities in schools, was only possible as a result of meticulous planning and attention to detail.  This included revised risk assessments, clear communications, and the introduction of new procedures – not least lateral flow testing.  I want to thank all my colleagues who have helped make the return of the full complement of our school populations such a positive experience, and thank our parents and children for just how brilliant they have been in their re-engagement with the expectations and requirements of the traditional school day. 

Such attention to detail extends through to all our staff, irrespective of their roles.  Our teachers and pupil support staff have been tailoring their planning to accommodate the learning needs of children who will have had a diversity of experiences of home learning and in-school provision.  Our site teams and administrative colleagues have been making adjustments to sites, managing matters such as financial changes, reprographics, first aid requirements, letters home and calendar changes.  Everyone has been examining their own responsibilities, and those of colleagues around them, to ensure nothing is missed. 

Like the clichéd swan on the lake, we see only the serenity above the surface and not the effort underneath.  This effort is supplemented, of course, by vast amounts expertise and experience – again which goes largely unseen. 

In a pastiche of children television from the era, the Monty Python comedy team performed a sketch, their own “take” on BBC’s Blue Peter, entitled “How to do it”, in which the presenters share incredibly superficial help for children to achieve amazing feats such as how to secure global peace, how to construct box girder bridges and – infamously…

“How to play the flute:  Well, you blow in one end, and move your fingers up and down the outside!” 

“Great, Alan.  And next week….”

Simply because we don’t always see the detail, or have it explained to us, does not mean that something is without complexity.  We all see things in our lives “from afar” and sometimes when a task is executed with real skill we may even note that the individual to be admired “makes it look easy”.  We know in reality that it is not.  Playing the flute requires mastery of facial muscles, a detailed understanding of musical notation, empathy with the composition and perfect timing – together with the lung capacity (‘blow in one end’) and manual dexterity (‘move your fingers up and down’) alluded to by “Alan” in “How to do it.”  So it is with our schools and those who work within them.  They too may make it look easy – and I hope they do – but I can confirm that it is anything but!

Thanks for reading.