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The only way to respond is as a team

14th September 2020

Last week saw a highly productive Headteachers' meeting. Our task, to review the start of term and consider our next steps, has never been more focused. Returning to full school opening in the midst of a pandemic is about as multi-layered, challenging and complex as it gets. The professionalism, drive and commitment to meet this challenge from schools is inspiring.

When addressing such multifaceted challenges it is easy to seek all the answers oneself - to list all the tasks and embark upon ticking them off, clarifying expectations, reporting lines and reviewing strategies. Indeed, this will undoubtedly be an essential part of every school strategy. The role for local governing bodies to be clear with these and evaluate these on the ground is also apparent. However, as we met as Headteachers, the sharing of ideas, opinions, experiences on the ground and the airing of specific questions, it became clear that collectively we are stronger.

Heads fed back on challenges and successes. Using practical strategies made their application of policy easier, and worked in their settings. Others picked up on this learning and verbalised how this could support their setting. In essence, we learnt together. All schools recognised the unstinting support the Trust had provided; monitoring systems, the risk assessment frameworks and the regional overview.

In the midst of this challenge, it was clear why we are a Trust.

Our attention also turned to hypothesising about the immediate future. How are we making provision for blended learning? What will be schools' approach to learning from previous virtual schooling approaches and improving these for the future? School leadership teams have already been discussing these tasks and conducting training, instigating further support for staff and working on clearer expectations for children. IT systems have been reviewed and audited, in order to better support our children during the Autumn term.

Not all problems can be predicted and not every challenge totally overcome. We are in a time of unknowns. However, what was clear was that as a team we are stronger. Our only response is as a team. It is what you do in a Trust.

Jack Mayhew, Executive Headteacher  Athena Schools Trust

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