A HEADTEACHER has said the pandemic has been the most anxious she's ever felt in over 30 years of teaching.

Bryony Baynes, headteacher from Kempsey Primary School, said that due to unprecedented times because of Covid she worries about the wellbeing of her staff.

She is concerned about staff members ‘constantly’ over their workload and lack of breaks.

Mrs Baynes said: “I’ve been in teaching over 30 years and have been a head teacher almost 15 of those years and this is, hands down, one of the most anxious periods I’ve ever experienced.

“Part of that is because it is an unprecedented time. There is no rule book to guide us through as heads. Things like Ofsted and school improvement – someone has usually walked the path before and you can turn to them for advice and guidance.

“But, like the rest of the country, we are all in this together for the first time, so it does rather feel like we are feeling our way along.

“My biggest anxiety has to be the wellbeing of my staff. I worry about them constantly and not just about them catching the virus. I worry about workload – they are with the children from the moment they come into school until they leave – there is no break and that is hard. I worry about their isolation, working in bubbles.

“Particularly for my staff who are very sociable and have always enjoyed each other’s company. And, I worry that one of them will get ill. I also worry that I’m doing the right thing – I constantly second guess myself about decisions; are we being strict enough? Should we be more strict? Should we wear masks in school? Should the children wear masks? Is the school getting cleaned properly?

“The questions go round and round in my head. Even at the weekends.

“And I know my staff are anxious. I see it in their faces. None of them flinch from doing their jobs but I know they worry – largely about their own families. They still come in every day and do their jobs cheerfully and enthusiastically but I know for all of them, underneath, is anxiety and worry.”

Mark Pollard, head at Bishop Perowne C Of E College, said: “These are really challenging times to be leading a school. Not only is the day-to-day school management still required but also there is this added layer of knowledge, understanding and decision making needed around Covid, the guidelines and risk assessments; suddenly headteachers have had to be expert virologists as well as educationalists.”

“Every day I am working with staff, students and families to reassure, ease anxieties and to start to fill the gaps in learning left by lockdown. Currently, I’m doing about 20,000 steps a day to visit all the different learning zones and ensure everything is running smoothly!

“The staff and students have been amazing as we have tried to make learning as normal as it can be. There are many difficulties but teachers having to move around the bubbles to visit different classrooms (rather than students visiting the teachers’ rooms) is the part that is particularly challenging. It’s been an exhausting half term for everyone, but I think it’s been a success so far. To think where we have been this year and where we are now, it has really been a huge team effort to get the school functioning again, albeit in a very different way to before.”

Tania Dorman, head of Regency High School, says running a SEN school during the pandemic is ‘extraordinarily complex.’

She said: “Everyone reacts to things differently and we have to consider the needs of everyone, staff, students and parents.”

“Some people are very anxious and need reassurance, others are ready for things to go back to ‘normal.’ Finding a balance is very difficult.


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“We feel that pupils’ mental health and educational needs need to come first. It is unfair for them to be in the same room all day every day. Next half term we want to start allowing bubbles to restart PE lessons and food tech. It is a huge part of what we do here and students are really missing it.

“However, safety is very important to us, and naturally we have vulnerable children and adults in the school. We will continue to follow guidelines and renew our risk assessments regularly. The last thing we want is for anyone in the school to be poorly.”

Two bubbles were sent home from the school on Monday as one pupil tested positive for coronavirus. Students can return on November 2.

Gareth Doodes, from The King’s School, said: “These have been challenging times, but I have been constantly uplifted by the inspirational way in which my staff and pupils have adapted. “

“The biggest challenge has been providing continuity of education to pupils who are isolating, and our hybrid model of teaching - which means no lessons are missed if either a pupil or staff member cannot physically be in the classroom - has ensured that pupil attainment levels are at the same or above where we would have hoped them to be.

“In addition to this we have a raft of King’s Alumni who have also been recruited to supervise classrooms to enable teachers to be beamed into lessons from home, and our digital infrastructure is set up and ready to switch over seamlessly to online teaching in the event that a group of pupils have to isolate.

“My staff and pupils have become digital champions, and the atmosphere and positivity among everyone who works and studies at King’s has meant we’ve had a fantastic half term despite all the challenges we’ve faced.”