The start of a new school year is generally a period of change within a framework of well practised systems and expectations. Well it was until about two and a half years ago.
The sweeping changes and upheaval brought by the pandemic meant schools up and down the country had to learn how to do things differently with little in the way of how-to-manuals or experts. It says something about the calibre of staff teams and school leaders that so many creative and innovative solutions were sought and honed to make sure children and young people were able to continue learning. But learning didn’t just happen alone, what most of us already knew and saw ever more sharply was the link between trusting relationships and learning. The framework that holds a learning community together is so much more than books, lesson plans and assignments. The glue in all schools are the relationships that allow students to feel safe to take risks so they can learn new things and find the tenacity to keep going when things are difficult.
At this time of unprecedented national change we can see the importance of relationships and trust being played out on our TV screens and in the media. Things are shifting as new leaders have the power to bring change and we must watch and wait sitting with uncertainty. Rituals and history provide a framework as we wait for things to settle but it’s the day to day relationships that generally keep things steady. People actively supporting each other through kindness have had a public stage over the last few years. It’s perhaps shifted our view on the importance of how we do things in life.
As we settle into another school year and national changes bed down, headlines will fade for most children and young people, but we must remember our connections with others are long lasting. We remember our ‘best teacher’, we can often recall when and why we switched off learning, we can carry a sense of success or failure. These things really matter and it’s in the gift of school staff to make a lasting difference. School connectedness and belonging often starts with kindness and a willingness to try and understand when things aren’t going well. We could all do with a positive start to this school year; it’ll help us through the times ahead.
You can find resources and links to research on the importance of student and staff wellbeing here: www.wellatschool.org/wellbeing