21st April 2020.
Dear parents, carers and any other member of the Chalkwell Infant School community that may be reading this,
Yesterday was the first day of the summer term. It seems just as unreal written down as said out loud, but it remains true nonetheless. As things stand we have no idea when the school lockdown will lift, who it will apply to, how quickly it will be implemented, how mandatory it will be. The list of questions is enormous, but to speculate is of no use to anybody. So where does that leave us?
As Governors we set out to the school staff from the very first day of closure that we see this an exercise in simply getting by. We wanted everyone to know that decisions may well be taken that with the benefit of hindsight might not have been taken, but if taken with the best intentions they should not be fearful. We wanted everyone to know that when this is all over we want to look forwards, not back. And we wanted everyone to know that as a community we will grow stronger from this. For those of you that have seen the ‘REACH’ video I can think of no greater demonstration of that last point. There were some staff members who we may never see again in the same light!
In terms of our expectations for the school, there has been a change of emphasis, but not direction. Safeguarding remains the #1 priority of ourselves and every other school in the country. We have updated our policy to reflect the new working arrangements, but otherwise nothing's changed. Our vision for the school remains unchanged, as does our expectation around financial control. There will have to be changes to our short-term expectations on school performance, but nothing changes in the medium to long-term. And to re-emphasise the point I made earlier, once we’re through this we will look forwards not back. We will remind ourselves what made this school great and we will build on it. There will inevitably be some catching-up to do, but we will see that as an opportunity not a problem. And we will look at the core foundations that are enabling us to get through this period and we will remind ourselves that the best time to judge performance is when we’re challenged.
So what is my ask to you all? In many ways my ask to you is to keep doing what you’re doing. I can see from the Facebook messages and from the anecdotes shared with me that you and your children are all missing the school. We are all trying our best and that’s all anyone can ask of each other in a community. The school will continue to provide as much educational support as possible, the Governors will provide the licence to do what is necessary without compromising safety and for the parents and carers, I just ask that you do what you can with your children as your own circumstances allow.
But my biggest ask for you all is to have patience. As I stated at the start of my message, we have no idea how or when this lockdown will end, but the likelihood is you will hear about it at the same time as the school. Whilst some amongst us will be elated, there will also be some who are nervous, both parents/carers and school staff. That is a perfectly human response and when the time comes I would like us to bear that in mind. We are as desperate to get back to normality as everyone, but it is more likely to be a journey than a specific date in the calendar.
Finally I’d like to thank you. I hope we never go through anything like this again as long as we all live, but the support you have shown Mrs Clements and the rest of the school has been heart-warming. As a society we are learning who really matters in a time of crisis and I hope this is a memory we all carry once we come out the other side.
Stay safe everyone
Chair of Governors