'Immensely proud' - headteacher on schools rising to Covid challenges

Caroline Derbyshire, Executive Headteacher of Saffron Walden County High School

Caroline Derbyshire, Executive Headteacher of Saffron Walden County High School - Credit: Saffron Walden County High School

Caroline Derbyshire, Executive Headteacher of Saffron Walden County High School, writes on the impact of the last year on teaching caused by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns.

It is now a year since the first of the national lockdowns and I must say I am immensely proud of the way that our family of schools, including SWCHS, R A Butler Infants and Juniors and Katherine
Semar Infants and Juniors, has risen to the challenges we have faced since March 2020.

In my diary back then I wrote this: “By Wednesday March 19, it had become clear that a different decision was necessary.

"Staff absence was making it impossible to run a normal timetable and parents had begun to
withdraw children from school.

We watched social media and news reports obsessively, waiting for change, knowing that it was now inevitable.”

In the year that has followed, we have achieved so much together:

We had no idea how to deliver and teach a curriculum online, but we have become experts.

We had no experience of making a school environment Covid-safe, but by working together on risk assessments and safety measures we have done all we can.

We had never put together Centre Assessed Grades……but we did it.

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We had never even heard of Lateral Flow Tests, but this term County High created and ran efficient testing centres.

We had little cause to trial online meetings, but Zoom, Teams and the rest of the platforms have become our friends.

So much of the national narrative has focused on what has been ‘lost’, but this generation of young
people will be the most adaptable of any generation since the last world war and my strong belief is that this will generate an appetite for problem-solving that will make all of our futures happier and safer.

We should be in awe of the way they have coped.

Caroline Derbyshire