In her virtual speech for NAHT's Annual Conference taking place today (9 October 2020), Professor Dame Alison Peacock, chief executive of the Chartered College of Teaching, calls for the profession to keep sight of our core purpose during this challenging time.
Peacock opens her speech explaining the critical role that schools play within the community: "Reconnecting is utterly at the heart of what we're about. Humans have a deep need to be together... And schools are so much about community, as you know."
"As schools have come back over the last number of weeks, that's been the key thing we've seen. The notion of youngsters gathering together; wanting to play together, wanting to hear each other's voices, and to joke, laugh and learn with you," she explains.
"As the leader of the school, you're the one that's conducting that orchestra. But at the moment, this is an orchestra that also needs some disinfectant.
"So there's a tremendous amount that you've been asked to be responsible for, and I absolutely appreciate how difficult that must be," she goes on to say.
"And yet, we must always temper all those difficulties with the joy, and with the moments of absolute love for being back together as a community.
"What we've had to learn over the last couple of months, nobody could have prepared us for," she states.
"One of the things we've all been doing is trying to carry on and do the best we can and to help, while also carrying a huge amount of anxiety.
"So really trying to think about what are the things that we can ease off on that would help. I don't think this is the time to be doing lesson monitoring or preparing for Ofsted," she adds.
"For too long, we've been driven by worrying about what they [Ofsted] are worried about. Our principles come to the fore when we think about what really matters," says Peacock.
"This is not the time to try and make everything perfect. Perfect is the enemy of the good. We just need to be able to get through this. This is not the time to worry about being measured."
"If you show your vulnerability that your priorities are kindness and care over all the other things that also may be competing for your attention, then that will help because we all need to help each other."
She closes by thanking the profession for everything they're doing during this challenging time, but stresses the need to keep sight of the core purpose of why we're doing this: "To help our young people come through this, and look back and see this as a turning point."
First published 09 October 2020