The Ridiculous

Today I have 8 staff off… 8. We’re a 1 form entry school. That we’ve managed to run school so far this week and it feel relatively normal has been a minor miracle and partly due to some incredibly flexible staff and that despite all this school is in a good place.

My supply budget is shot. It wasn’t very big.

I have staff (double jabbed) who are properly poorly, (not a bad cold) can’t move, fatigued, can’t get out of bed poorly, three are already beyond the 10 days and are just too ill to work.

I have the worst school attendance I’ve had since I’ve been here (8 years) yet at 93% so far this term I know it’s better than a lot of schools.

We are so very far from normal. COVID is still around.

Yet in England the world churns on as though nothing is happening.

Ofsted are back, not as a force for good or improvement but as a dark anti-hero wielding it’s sword as Damocles. It’s been locked in a closet for two years and doesn’t seem to have any awareness of what has happened. I’ve seen heads more worried by Ofsted than they’ve ever been. At the moment so much stuff is being done in the name of “Ofsted”. Now you can be all sanctimonious and say “don’t do stuff for Ofsted” but actually there is significant self preservation both for heads and school staff by jumping through the hoops.

If you’re a small primary the workload on staff is immense. Yet from reports it seem Ofsted are jumping on every inconsistency and there is no account taken for the sterling work of the past two years.

Meanwhile other services seem to have disappeared with schools picking up the increasing slack. Mental Health, speech and language, early help, social care all running beyond capacity. Don’t start me on SEND.

Everyday is a fresh challenge. I’ll be honest I’ve become much better at compartmentalising it and not losing sight of the job. It has however never been harder.

We have MPs blaming schools and wanting to enshrine in Law that it will be much more difficult for schools to close. I don’t actually disagree that kids should be in school, but the rhethoric stings when the actual government they are part of has done practically nothing to keep schools open. Ventilation/CO2 monitors anyone? Masks in secondary anyone or anywhere in England for that matter. Any mitigations? Nope! There is no surprise that attendance is so poor, we have 40000 cases a day and have become blasé to 200 people dying.

Exams and SATs are all going ahead, yet they will be far from fair. Personally it saddens me to feel those pressures returning in KS2. I know and I’m sure many other primaries would agree that we saw a much better deal for year 6 and in many ways children much more ready for secondary by not having SATs. We didn’t have a post SATs drop off the class had a broader curriculum offer. We’re not a school that over preps or spends loads of time, we trust the work we’ve done, this year we know there will be gaps however.

So I sit here at 5 in the morning laughing at it all.


Who knows ultimately what will be the toll of all this. I’m glad I’m laughing, though it does feel like that slightly manic deranged laugh. Anyway time to put the makeup on and head into work.


3 thoughts on “The Ridiculous

  1. Morning Simon
    I couldn’t agree more, esp your comments about Ofsted. Send your blog to Nadim Zahawi – I would love it if he could hear your voice of reason and accuracy! Keep up your sterling work because we really appreciate it.


  2. As a fellow headteacher, equally frustrated at the lack of mitigations whilst being expected to “crack on”, I share your pain, bewilderment and frustrations. I am assuming, like the vast majority of headteachers, you’re in it for the children ? ( no irony intended!) I’m fed up of being seen as being difficult or anti-establishment. Cutting us some slack would be much appreciated.


  3. After email after email to ministers, shadow ministers, my MP, the Children’s Commissioner highlighting the important needs for schools to be safe …. No response and nothing done!! Schools were not built with Covid in mind therefore needed ventilation to be at the forefront with this air borne virus. No CO2 monitors to identify poor ventilation and no HEPA air filters and no mitigations. Infection rates are high in schools, children do transmit and they do become ill. This is opposite to what this Government have been saying. I stopped listening to the Government a long time ago, instead I listen to the scientists of Independent Sage because the tell it as it is abundantly provide independent advice!!


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