I sent absolutely no Happy Easter cards at the end of term. It’s not because I don’t wish anyone a Happy Easter. Easter is surely one of the most joyous times of year, when we celebrate the new life that we read about in the Easter story and that we see all around us in spring. It’s just that, in my role as Principal at The Nottingham Emmanuel School, things seem to build to a crescendo of busyness at the end of any term. I often watch admiringly other colleagues, calmly and handing out end-of-term cards and I’m often on the receiving end of such care; I received an Easter egg from our ‘Chaplaincy team’ here at Emmanuel, wishing me a restful Easter break.
So I wanted to start the summer term by expressing how grateful I am to support staff who, often unseen, cater for the needs of an individual child or do something out of school hours, well beyond their formal “duties”. I am grateful to teachers, for whom there is no such thing as a regular working week and who spend a fair chunk of their Easter holidays preparing, marking and running revision classes. Thank you to staff who contributed to a Spring term in which we celebrated World Book Day, Ghana Day and Fairtrade Fortnight, visited Berlin and the Isle of Wight, competed locally, regionally and nationally in sports competitions and held to our high expectations of each of the 1000 students at Emmanuel.
School holidays are a privilege and bring with them a corresponding responsibility. I know that the intensity of term-time work for staff and students means that holidays bring a healthy balance to life and allow one to recuperate and recalibrate. They also bring with them a responsibility to ensure that students receive the very best quality teaching and care during the term-time. I am reminded of the advert placed by a school for a new headteacher some years ago, which struck me as unflinchingly honest:
“This is not the right place for someone who walks out of the door with the students at 3.30p.m. We are demanding of our teachers, and of our senior leaders. We believe that our community deserves an outstanding school and we strive to be outward facing, never resting on our laurels and always seeking further improvement. We expect students and staff to embrace challenge and to see resilience and hard work as the route to success.
You will already be familiar with the demands of the role. This means that you are on duty more, there are more evening events to go to and, if we need to work late or work on a Saturday, then that’s what we do. I am fully aware of the need for a work life balance; I too have a young family. But in term time we work very hard.”
I can relate to that and I know the same is true for our team of staff.
We embark on the summer term with that same sense of privilege and responsibility. We look forward to Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, Year 6 transition activities, field trips to Burbage Brook and Dorset, overseas trips to Spain and Ghana, our literary festival, the key stage 3 celebration evening, Year 10 work skills fortnight and of course our annual Sports Day. Even if I don’t always say it in a card at the end of term, thank you to the investment of staff, parents and students in making Emmanuel a special place to work and learn.