On Monday 11 May our three Junior School campuses will open again after being closed for eight weeks. There will be relevant safety measures in place. Our Headteachers have reflected on this challenging period of remote schooling and the profound impact it is has had on the school, its students and staff.
Undergoing a Metamorphosis
Chris Wathern, Junior School Diamanthorst
“I took this photo recently in the playground at JSD. It was such a calm moment in what has been anything but. Just like butterflies undergo a complete metamorphosis, so has our education during the last seven weeks. I can honestly say in my 20 years in teaching, no other situation has been so profound as this one. One question often asked at interviews is about flexibility and agility. I’m sure in years to come, many will ask how did you cope and manage during the Covid19 pandemic. That one question could take a whole interview.
I am honoured to work with my colleagues that have show collaboration and perseverance in abundance. As with the teamwork within JSD, to the teamwork across the #BSNtogether.
It would be an understatement to say that these last seven weeks haven’t been without stresses and strains. We had to respond to the changing landscape and our ‘normal’ working hours were abandoned. As many other families, we were juggling work and children. In the meantime, I had to focus on what is best for our staff, students and parents.
Navigating our way
Anyone involved in managing and leading an organisation will know what it means to manage expectations. In reality, there are so many variables. Some of which are not in your control. My hope is that we have navigated our way through this crisis with integrity and responsibility to our whole community.
So just like the changing life cycle of a butterfly, I know there will be many more phases of the ‘new norm’. Thank you all for your cooperation, patience, understanding and support.”
-Chris Wathern, Headteacher, Junior School Diamanthorst (JSD)
“All for one and one for all! ”
Karren van Zoest, Junior School Leidschenveen
“As we prepare to reopen our Junior schools, I am reminded of the stories of The Three Musketeers, who faced countless challenges and worked tirelessly together…. “All for one and one for all! ”
I can’t think of a better analogy to describe working with my BSN headteacher colleagues. In the past nine weeks, we have stood shoulder to shoulder (virtually of course) looking out in all directions to face the things we could see coming, but also the things we could not.
During the sudden shift in the use of IT and the wide range of differing opinions in our communities, it has taken courage to stand behind our convictions and guiding principles of ensuring high-quality learning, moving steadily without leaving anyone behind, and safeguarding students at all times.
Creating a new rulebook
There was no headteacher rule book for the ‘Black Swan’ which is Covid 19. The situation cast a shadow over everything we thought was normal. It has made me value the small things we so easily take for granted and realise how much of our job relies on those small interactions with staff, in the moment, every day.
I am very proud of the rule book we have managed to write along the way. Schools are the very embodiment of people being together and yet we have managed to be together – apart. As we now begin the journey towards being together once again, I know that we do so with an even stronger one-school bond.”
-Karren van Zoest, Headteacher, Junior School Leidschenveen (JSL)
School closure has brought us closer together
Sue Aspinall, Junior School Vlaskamp
“On Monday morning 11 May, we will re-open our three Junior campuses after being closed for eight weeks. This is a longer duration than a Summer Holiday. For most of our students this will be the longest period of time in their school careers that they have been out of physical contact with their teachers and their peers.
I am wondering how they are feeling and what they are thinking as they prepare to return. What will be ‘normal’ for them? What will be different? What will they be looking forward to? What are they worried about? What will they miss about learning at home? How will they have changed?
What I do know, is that our staff have worked hard throughout the school closure, to stay connected with their students. They have designed personalised pre-recorded videos to support their learning, sent motivational pre-recorded video messages, and most recently held online student-led conferences to reassure each individual student. They have tried to convey their love, passion and commitment for their students through every channel they can.
Insightful collaboration between parents and teachers
Alongside this, our teachers have developed a special relationship with the students’ parents. Many teachers have coached and offered advice, providing support and encouragement as parents navigate the teacher role at home. This partnership has shared the highs and lows of the last weeks. For many teachers this has been a strangely remote but insightful collaboration.
So, for me, I have seen my colleagues in all roles across the BSN, do whatever it takes to guide and support students through these uncharted waters. We have done our best, learnt from others, trialled new ideas and made mistakes. Most importantly, we have worked together, collaborated across year groups, phases and campuses and staying connected. School closure has certainly strengthened our community and brought us closer to the families we serve. I also know it will have a lasting impact on our teaching, our partnership with parents and the future ‘shape’ of education at the BSN. I look forward to being a part of that journey.”
Sue Aspinall, Headteacher, Junior School Vlaskamp (JSV)
Looking forward positively
Our journey isn’t over yet. No matter how well the reopening of our campuses has been planned and organised, the reality will continue to present new challenges. With such a strong and collaborative leadership team behind our dedicated staff, we will continue to adapt, evolve, and learn from experience.