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Plan for tomorrow and remember today

18th May 2021

It has been a real pleasure to visit schools and get into classrooms these last few weeks. The energy and enthusiasm of the children and learning provides so much nourishment for the soul and reminds us all why we do what we do. I hope that the controlled and gradual easing of some of the Covid restrictions, potentially more significant at secondary than primary level, have helped us all feel a spring like reset.

The first half of the summer term does present particular challenges to us in school settings. We are both planning for next year and ensuring we do not take our eye off the ball of today. Many colleagues are completing budgets and interviewing potential colleagues for next year, whilst also preparing (and this year for some conducting) assessments and the examination season.

This push-me pull-you environment can be stimulating but tiring. It feels as though many balls are up in the air and we cannot afford to drop them. This is an honest appraisal of the situation, and I know that for many secondary teachers, in particular, getting to half term and putting the TAG assessments behind us is important.

I would caution us to remember that we can only do one thing at a time. All too often I find myself running at many things and lacking the clarity of purpose for each occasion. I am not saying we cannot multitask (teachers have been doing this for decades and women for millennia) this is a key personal characteristic of all those in education – but we do need to take care of ourselves at the same time. In mental health awareness week, we strive to provide space to talk about these challenges and acknowledge that both formal and informal support are as important for us to say healthy in the mind, as it is the body.

The dual-purpose nature of our education world now is usual. We need to plan for tomorrow and not forget about today. Many a good plan supports us all in the long run, and saves work and worry in the future. However, we also need to work as a trust to support each other when both these plates are spinning. If in doubt – always put the children and ourselves first.

Jack Mayhew, Executive Headteacher  Athena Schools Trust

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