Dr Alison Brown, acting director of education, reflects on the start of the new school year.
We owe all our school leaders and staff a huge debt of gratitude for keeping schools open during the lockdown, supporting pupils, parents and the wider school community.
What a year 2020 continues to be. For all those involved in schools they have, in effect, two New Years to mark and celebrate each year, in January and in September as a new academic year begins.
For most of our schools that ‘new year’ is this week.
Of course, this is going to be a particularly unusual new start with a potent mixture of excitement and anxiety.
The excitement will be because at long last the whole school community can be back together.
The anxiety will be multi-layered. For parents it might be around the safety of their children and their ability to fit back into the social setting of school.
For pupils it could be around being back in an environment in a new way with class bubbles, staggered break-times and starts and ends to the day.
For staff it will be about how they help pupils to pick up and run with their formal learning whilst keeping safe and happy.
For all staff there will also be anxiety for their own health and for those they care for at home.
How can we help our precious schools and the individuals in them flourish with this backdrop?
Well, we can pray for them, that they will know that ‘goodness and mercy shall follow them all of their lives’.
For clergy and congregations who have schools in their care, sending cards, messages, emails, phone calls wishing them well and telling them of that prayer will count for a lot (as might a box of biscuits or chocolates for the staff room!!).
Visits into schools are not yet allowed and so all the support we give must be at a distance, but in the knowledge that the God who loves us all is closer than we can imagine.