What makes you feel part of your community? There are some things that immediately come to mind. The shops, the pubs, parks, café’s the local amenities which you may use on a regular basis. Some of these may have been closed recently or some have turned their skills and expertise to serving our needs in a different way. They have not forgotten us and we will not forget them either, when, eventually the new norm emerges.
One very important facet of our community has been closed for a long time… that is our schools. We have missed the busy roads, the pavements outside school full of parents and grandparents waiting to collect their offspring. We have missed the laughter from the playgrounds, the music that filters through the open classroom windows on summer days.
Next week, some of those pupils who had to leave the school buildings for such a long time, are now returning. Teachers and other staff at the school have been busy deliberating how to organise this new way of working with children, Their professionalism, their dedication to teaching and learning has enabled them to organise a different type of school environment, a different way of working. But their endeavours will be appreciated not only by pupils, parents but also the community.
Returning to school. although in reduced numbers, is an important start, giving confidence and reassurance to us all. Our children will benefit from seeing their friends and the familiar faces of their teachers. It will also be important for the mental health and wellbeing of pupils to have contact with some of their peers and to have opportunity to experience their school environment again.
We want to say “Thank you” to the teachers and staff in our schools. They have worked hard to open up the buildings in anticipation of our excited children returning to a school system very different from that which they left in March. Teachers and pupils have been working in a very different way over the last term. Now they return to meet a new challenge. Although it will be different, they will be utilising their skills and professionalism to make it work.
Our communities are important to us. They are continually evolving. They are like the ingredients in a well-made cake. Successful communities have the right mix of ingredients. Schools form an important ingredient in helping us face the new norm. We will listen carefully for the laughter, the cheers of the excited pupils as they take their first steps back to school.
Good schools help form communities of which we can be proud. We wish them every success as they re-open.