GUEST BLOG – Nigel Griffiths Headteacher at John Kyrle High School
It has been an extraordinary few months, with all of us having to make changes to the way we live, work and go about our general business.
In a series of guest blogs Ross-on-line has asked various residents, businesses and public figures to talk about how the coronavirus pandemic has been for them. The first blog is by Nigel Griffiths, Head Teacher at John Kyrle High School….
“I have been headteacher at JKHS for 20 years. I’m a National Leader of Education. A lead Ofsted Inspector, but nothing could have prepared me (or any headteacher) for life since lockdown. We have planned, done, learned and thought a lot. We kept our community Happy, Healthy and Successful. My overwhelming feeling is one of gratitude. This includes to my students, parents, staff and governors. They have been brilliant, as have our caterers, Alliance in Partnership. Could I take this opportunity to thank Mrs Denise Smith who is retiring after 31 years of outstanding service to the science department. I am also grateful to the community for their support of the school and each other. Also well done to the team at ross-on-line.co.uk. As a resident of the town I have found the information and updates to be most informative. Your support for us has also been much appreciated.
“We had to close abruptly on 20th March. Since then, students have been out of school for the longest period since the Second World War. They have all missed so much, but I am particularly sorry for our fantastic Year 11 and 13 students. There would be no exams, despite their hard work and, sadly, no prom and no end of Year 13 leavers’ meal. School trips to France, Kenya and Uganda were cancelled.
“At the start of lockdown, we had to arrange contact with all key workers who wanted us to supervise theirchildren. The senior team took the decision to look after this group, with the help of site staff, support staff and first aiders. This gave teachers time to plan the biggest programme of online support and learning we had ever undertaken.
“Students and parents responded well to the new style of learning. We kept in touch online and by telephone. I lost count of the merit postcards I wrote and sent home congratulating students on their efforts. We held competitions, produced films seen by tens of thousands of people, became on first-name terms with people’s pets and did online Question & Answer session with primary schools. We now also have a pen-pal programme with local care homes. Mr Nieuwoudt and students manufactured hundreds of visors for local health-care professionals and special schools. The science department donated hundreds of pairs of goggles to organisations who asked for them. We donated hand sanitizers and toilet rolls to charities. We also acted as a collection point for the community food larder.
“At home I watched more Netflix than is good for me. The Last Dance–trust me. I played the new Paul Weller album a thousand times. I saw with huge disappointment my family getting better and better at Scrabble and table tennis. I am now last in both leagues. It’s a good job I’m not competitive and that I take defeat so well!
“I hope everyone in the town, and further afield, has a lovely summer. I look forward to meeting many of you when we fire up the JKHS engines again in September.”
Nigel is pictured with children of key workers who have attended school since March.