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Hessle High School

WEEK 27 - Friday 8 April 2022

“Are you on holiday again?” asked a friend of mine when I told him that today was the end of the Spring Term.  “You have more holidays than Judith Charmers.”

Apart from being an 80s TV reference that most people won’t understand, this is quite a typical response from non-teachers when they hear that we are breaking up for ‘another holiday’.  I have to confess that was also my sentiment before I became a teacher too.  “Thirteen weeks holiday and you finish at three o’clock?  What a life?” is still something I hear from folk.  I have neither the time nor the energy to try and rebut that impression and I actually feel that the majority of people do now realise that a teacher’s job is so much more than this and, if they didn’t, then the months of lockdown and home schooling at least showed people how tough it is to manage and teach just one or two children, let alone a classful.  But, listen, I’m not asking for any sympathy.  We choose this job.  Just as people who envy our holidays are more than welcome to come and join us in schools.  But where there is still a misconception between those who work in schools and those who don’t, is around the impact of the last few months of Covid.  

The perception in many quarters is that this pandemic is over, we are all getting back to normal and the sooner we do so the better.  If only that were the case in schools.  To put it into perspective, we have had more positive cases since February Half Term than in the whole of the rest of the pandemic put together.  Around 90% of cases are related to students and every one of these is tracked to ensure students return at the right time and, when they do, all of the staff do their best to help them ‘catch up’.  Alongside this, and where it relates to Year 11 and 13 students is the anxiety of the impact on their exams.  This can manifest itself in young people feeling down or suffering worse symptoms of mental health.  On other occasions, it shows in misbehaviour with students more irritable and prone to falling out with peers or staff.  Our colleagues handle this with aplomb, every single day.

An even bigger impact is when staff are absent.  A teacher’s day usually consists of them standing in front of a class of thirty children for four or five lessons.  When they’re absent, the children are still there but someone else needs to substitute.  This can either be supply staff (there are very few people available) or other staff (who all have their own jobs to do).  In other words, the job still needs doing, it cannot wait.  We can cope with this when there are only a handful of staff absent but when it reaches 10% or more as it has done, the impact on the rest of staff is brutal.  I know that there have been times when colleagues may have struggled to return calls promptly this term and I thank you for your understanding and support.  

The past few weeks have seen some great sporting successes for our girls and boys teams.  Please keep in touch with these via Twitter and the Head of Year Blogs.  What amazes me is not only the dedication of the students but also the staff, some of whom are running several sports teams and spending their early evenings taking students all over the county to take part in sports.  This is what schools are about and reminds me of my High School days when I struggled (mostly unsuccessfully) to make it into the Sir Henry Cooper High School Rugby League team.  On the few occasions when everyone else was injured and I was selected, I used to love the minibus trips across the city to play rugby.  Great times and I’m delighted that so many of our students are benefiting from this in the same way.

Finally, if we make it through the airport delays, the Groak family are heading off to Spain in the morning for a week in the sunshine.  I’m delighted to hear that many of my colleagues are also heading abroad, some of them for the first time in a couple of years.  Their holidays are well earned and will bring them back refreshed and ready to give their very best to our young people next term.

Whatever you are doing over the Easter break, enjoy it and take care.

Mr Groak