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Wed, 24 Nov 21 10:00

Time for reflection

As spring rolls in and the sun shines brightly, lockdown restrictions are beginning to lift and we move nervously into our new normal, I thought it provided an opportunity for reflection.

If, like me, you have juggled home working with periods of home schooling, you will be forever grateful to our schools, their staff and their leaders! I became more certain that social work was the right career for me during days of supporting my boys with their school learning - equivalent fractions nearly did for me, but my son’s Year 9 art project was a pretty impressive joint effort!

Teaching is challenging at the best of times, but the adaptability of the profession to online and face-to-face teaching, alongside the provision of significant pastoral support for vulnerable learners and their families, has been truly incredible.

The strengthened relationships and partnerships we have built across local authorities, schools, and colleges during the pandemic will only benefit children and their families as we collectively support them to navigate the future and make up for the social, emotional and educational gaps now present.

Personally, I have learned to value lots in lockdown, not least the absence of a tortuous daily commute up the M62, but I truly appreciated the skill and expertise shown by all my staff during these testing times. In our recent annual conversation with Ofsted, I shared some of these reflections; it felt important to acknowledge this year has been about so much more than impact, outcomes progress and pace.

These last 12 months have been about commitment, tenacity, adaptability, and delivery in the face of personal challenges for some, and tragedy for others. As members of ADCS we mourned the very tragic loss of our dear friend and inspirational colleague Helen Blackman. Similar in age and outlook, her death shook me profoundly as I know it did others, especially her close colleagues in Nottingham and the East Midlands – she will be missed. Our thoughts are with her family.

I am sure for many of you, the year has also been about excellence, positivity and the amazing ability of our staff and teams across the partnership system to retain hope and compassion in our approach to delivering such a broad range of services to the most vulnerable.

Therefore, it is important to take time to grieve, to remember those we have loved and lost, but also to celebrate our survival and our success, however small. Our individual and collective leadership as an Association has been incredible. It has had a huge impact on our local, regional, and national systems and I think we should take a minute, or 10, to pause and acknowledge the impact that may have had on us, as individuals as well as the people we lead.

It is time to reset, recharge and recover to ensure we can sustain ourselves and adapt to whatever our new operating model will be and support the people and systems we lead to continue to innovate and adapt to the changing environment.

We have all gone above and beyond, finding the extraordinary and exceptional in the everyday – success despite the circumstances, with enthusiasm and hope in uncertain times.

Theodore Roosevelt said “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”.

Colleagues we have done that in spades this year.

So, I invite you to take a breath, be kind to yourself and take that minute (or 10) to say, “Well done, well led, good job!”

Now ...what’s next on your “to do” list…


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