The summer break is over and most schools across England and Wales; Primary and Secondary, return today either for an INSET day or the start of term.
The shared view, and perhaps the first point of conversation, is how fast the summer break appears to have passed and also, what a washout our summer was! Focus then quickly turns to the new term, the curriculum, the classroom, the pupils and the workload!
Some staff may have enjoyed almost all of the full six weeks away from school, other staff may not have been so lucky! In most cases staff will either have worked part (or in the case of support staff most) of the holidays so returning today is just another day for them, although the school population will have increased significantly compared to the previous weeks, and I can guarantee what follows hand in hand is the volume of queries. For those staff returning after an extended period away today is great to meet and catch up with colleagues whilst for new staff starting it is the chance for them to familiarise themselves with the school, their new colleagues and the surroundings. For SLT, today presents a great opportunity to provide whole school training and to address all staff collectively, preparing them for the new term and sharing any changes (curriculum, regulatory etc) as well as any new procedures or processes. In Secondary schools Faculties will also have a chance to meet to ensure that they are ready for the new term.
The aroma of fresh paint, cleaning products and, if you are lucky (budget permitting) perhaps the smell of a new carpet and furniture will welcome staff back today. It is a great feeling when you return to your school and even better if it has been refurbished. The smallest amount of repair and maintenance can make a difference!
The walk back into school feels like you have never been away! If you are a member of middle management or SLT it is likely you haven’t, or at least not for a prolonged period! The pressures and the anxieties return quite quickly but they are met with the rush of adrenaline that makes you what you are, and it is this adrenaline that makes the school environment the right place for you!
The start of term for me was always a stressful time largely as part of my responsibility was the building work that would have been commissioned throughout the summer. Making sure the work was completed on time, specifications met and snags addressed was a challenge but we always ensured that when today arrived, the school looked fantastic and was ready for the return of our staff and our pupils.
For me personally the six week holidays was less frantic and pressurised than in term time naturally, through the absence of staff and pupils. However it was not my favourite time of the year largely because six weeks is a long time when you are used to working flat out with high levels of stress and pressure, all of which I enjoyed I might add! During the summer break your body clock would change slightly, the pressure and stress was not as extreme and as such you adjusted accordingly. You are never quite sure how much you have adjusted until the new term starts!
With most staff, the first week without doubt is about survival and adjustment- getting yourself back up to speed and organised, ensuring your working environment is sorted, meeting new pupils and getting to chat with current pupils, finding out what they did over the summer.
I always enjoyed welcoming our new pupils to the school. They would arrive with trepidation and excitement in equal measure and usually with half their household content stored away in what always appeared to be an oversized holdall! Parents and carers would wave from the school gates long enough to reassure themselves that their son/daughter would be fine but no longer as they will have been warned by their child before arriving at school not to embarrass them! I valued chatting to the new pupils and putting them at ease and doing the same with the parents. It is a difficult and emotional time but parents should rest assured that their children are in the hands of equally caring people who only want the best for them!
By the time the second week arrives it is all systems go!
Being founder and director of Red Apple Education my focus has changed ever so slightly now but having worked in schools for so long I still experience the adrenaline and excitement of the new term! I miss the pupil interaction but thoroughly enjoy working with our schools and I am so excited about working with them once again this term. I’m also really looking forward to welcoming new schools to Red Apple Education; we know that once we have worked with you, you will see what makes us different!
Good luck to all staff returning this week for the new term. Equally best wishes to all the pupils who either start another year in the school or maybe are starting for the first time! May your academic year be one of educational stretch and challenge but overall enjoyment!
I look forward to working with you and supporting you!