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Penshurst Primary School

WEEK 39 - Friday 23 July 2021

You can’t run a school without ________________

And the magic of Penshurst Primary School is that you could name anyone in that sentence and it would be true. This year, more than ever before, we have seen how vital every single person is when it comes to making a school work and every single one of them deserves huge thanks for their work.

Thanks to our cleaners who have kept us safe, working extra hours and doubly hard to ensure that rooms and spaces are sanitised, cleaning stations replenished and every single surface wiped to within an inch of its life!  

Thanks to our caretakers for also keeping us safe, moving tables, chairs, barriers, and heaven and earth to repurpose our spaces into safe bubbles. Nothing is ever too much trouble. They look after us, so we can focus on looking after the children.

Thanks to our teachers for putting themselves on the front line. When many workers do their jobs behind perspex screens, our teachers have continued to work in classrooms with thirty plus children. And when pupils have been sent home, they’ve reinvented themselves into online teachers or, even more incredibly, taught online and face to face at the same time which is even more difficult than it sounds.

Thanks to our pastoral team who have dealt with every possible human emotion in the past sixteen months, from pupils, parents and colleagues. I am in awe of the way in which they do this work day in and day out, never letting anything or anybody affect their professional commitment to support the wellbeing of children. They are heroes, in my book.  

Thanks to Claire Fewster and the back office staff who have made the operation work - communicating with parents, handling the Covid information in and out of school, dealing with Covid cases, real or imagined, producing packs of work at no notice for children to do at home. Whatever has been thrown at them, and everything has, they have risen to the challenge and just done it. 

Thanks to our wider support staff, our teaching assistants and our safeguarding team who have played their part in supporting the pupils in lessons, working online and when they’ve been most vulnerable, anxious or confused.  

Thanks also to the middle leaders. We start each year with a planned curriculum and their job is to make sure that it is taught well. But this year, that plan has had to change almost each half term as we have adjusted to the demands of teaching online and so on.   

Thanks to our catering team for turning their operation upside down to provide a meal service despite reduced staff, stock shortages and trying to operate social distancing in a confined kitchen. And to our lunchtime supervisors for keeping order and helping children to enjoy a calm and pleasant lunch.

And finally, just because this is most personal to me, thank you to Sarah Greenley, our Operations Manager, to Jo Spencer, your Head of School and to Michelle Preston and Sally Hornby, your Senior Leadership Team. The work that they have done, often deep into the night and over weekends, to keep the school open and as safe as it can be, to keep the staff going, is …. well, I have run out of superlatives. I am incredibly proud of them.

Throughout this pandemic, there have been lots of heroes. The NHS staff, obviously, but many others in transport, logistics and public servants everywhere; but no group has worked harder, more flexibly and more importantly than those in schools. I feel privileged to lead your school and proud of the incredible human beings that I work with every day.

Finally, thank you to you and your families. I know that this year has presented significant challenges for every household in the country and I am acutely aware of the difficulties presented by home schooling and sudden self-isolation. Despite this, your continuing support has kept us going and has ensured that we can all focus on the thing we have in common; an unbending commitment to ensuring that our young people develop into the people we wish them to be.

Thank you. And have a lovely summer.  

Mr V Groak