What am I doing?…logistics

I’m sat here on a Sunday afternoon, wondering how I can fill the gaps and there are gaps, more staff isolating. Two emails, a text message and member of staff on the CEV list following the new lockdown on top of four staff already being out from closing a bubble. Our problem is due to the number of children (well above the national average) with significant special needs we have no capacity to cover, if a staff member is off, we must cover that immediately means supply. (We have no supply budget) 

If I’m honest the job feels like a long way from the job, I aspired to 6 years ago.

When I became a headteacher it was with an idealistic fervour that I could improve the education for children in our school, that I could support the teachers and staff to be that best they could be. This is not the job I’m now doing. Some weeks it feels that I cannot even get close to looking at how school is doing.

Every day is a logistics challenge, filling gaps and managing holes. We can talk as much as we like about catch-up however currently my first aim is to KEEP OPEN. The pressure is constant, and I have to say without the brilliant support of our Trust I think I would have folded under the pressure of it.

Don’t get me wrong school is amazing and the staff are doing an astounding job. Children are in, settled and working hard. It does however feel increasingly fragile.

Last week I taught all week in Year 5 as the teacher was isolating and we couldn’t afford more supply. This wasn’t the best plan when we were informed of a positive child in year 6 on Wednesday morning (two jobs one person is not possible).   I’ve done almost every lunchtime there is no downtime, every minute is solving the daily ongoing problems that arise.

 Then I look at my budget, which we have worked so hard to get back into credit and was running on a fine line. The costs are now starting to stack up with supply costs that we cannot afford. The government needs to look at this and support schools to stay open

Then we get the other stuff …That Ofsted are even contemplating starting regular inspections in January is frankly ludicrous. That the plan is for primary schools to get back on the SATS accountability train is just ridiculous.

Personally, I believe schools should be open, but we need less empty rhetoric from government and more support, both financially and systemically to keep our schools staffed and as safe as we can.

2 thoughts on “What am I doing?…logistics

  1. This is of no great surprise. As a retired teacher I have written numerous times to my MP and the Secretary of State for Education to consider in the first instance that schools were not built with Covid-19 in mind. As a result social distancing is near impossible, ventilation is generally poor, toilet facilities are limited and to ensure hygiene is followed carefully takes time out of the curriculum, particularly when teachers are expected to sanitise their own classrooms!!! The Government has provided little extra funding and schools are expected to fund their PPE. Furthermore face masks are not permitted in classrooms which are generally full with around 30 pupils. Where schools are having to send staff and pupils home to isolate they have no funding to bring in supply teachers. Schools have been given 10 tests per 1000 pupils which is a joke!!

    The Government promised laptops and routers for underprivileged pupils, this was not completed, therefore if we look at 1.4 million on free school meals then the 220,000 laptops do not do the business! Now the Government is giving schools just a few laptops each to cope with any pupils sent home. I’m not sure what they imagine will happen if a year group ‘bubble’ is sent home.

    Teachers are then being expected to provide work for their pupils working from home in addition to teaching and monitoring the processes they have set up related to Covid-19. Does anyone in Government or anywhere else have a clue?

    Schools have been underfunded for years and the little they have received to deal with the coronavirus is pitiful and doesn’t come close to supporting schools and their communities in the ways they need. If the Government is so concerned about keeping schools open why haven’t they been supported in the same way businesses or the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme? That’s how concerned they are about our children’s education!!

    I wrote providing a plan for social distancing through the use of public buildings, mobile classrooms etc, I suggested workforce capacity through retired teachers, supply teachers, HLTAs supported by teachers etc. I suggested building toilet capacity and speeding up the use of antibacterial gels, dedicated teams to sanitise schools regularly throughout the day. I mentioned the use of dedicated home school liaison teachers to sort work for pupils at home and in addition to fulfill their promise of providing laptops. Finally I pointed out local testing needed to be put in place.

    What is of further concern NHS has been told not to follow up single cases and schools are not always sharing infections. Data therefore is not accurate so how can important decisions be made. In protecting the school community and it’s wider communities.

    I’ve had no response from ministers and my MP tells me children are not at great risk and they need to be kept in school. I asked him to share my concerns and thoughts in the House of Commons as my representative. I did point out that schools could have not only closed over half term but added time to put a strategy in place in view of the Union petition. The response came from my MPs aide telling me they were busy with Covid-19!!!

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