Being a headteacher this year has been a whirlwind. At the beginning of the pandemic there was so little information, and everything was so unknown. It was a real challenge for all of us, just as it was for schools everywhere.
But we adapted. People stepped up more than I could have ever imagined – we’re a tighter team and more connected as a school community, which has been the real positive to come out of this situation.
The remote learning was really difficult to begin with, but we evolved, and we learnt together. It surprised me how we were able to pivot so quickly, and step up to provide for the children.
It wasn’t just about providing education, either. From March until June we provided packed lunches for all our vulnerable children. It was a team effort – our cook was in school making the meals, and our family liaison officer, my deputy head, the reception teacher, myself and my husband did the deliveries. We went out into the community for the whole period when the children couldn’t be at school and made sure they had a meal at lunchtime.
We got to see the children on a daily basis which was amazing. Seeing their homes has made me much more empathetic as some of them live in quite challenging conditions.
We have one Syrian refugee family and reaching out to them was difficult because of the language barrier. The first time we delivered to them we took egg sandwiches – we’d been through the choices with them on the phone and thought we were giving them what they’d asked for. But it turned out they wanted cornflakes and milk. We got better at getting over the language barrier. Really, they wanted provisions rather than sandwiches, so we were able to do that instead for them.
Delivering these meals and pulling together over this year has shown me again how much like a family we are.
Our Methodist identity as a school is a key part of this. John Wesley was one of the founders of the Methodist Church, and his rule says: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” During our collective worship, we say John Wesley’s rule and do the actions – so it’s embedded in the children’s lives. It’s this that really builds the family feeling in our community.
When you’re a family you look after one another – you pull together – you commit to doing good in all the ways you can for one another. For the staff and students at St Peter’s, this year has been a test of our rule, and I think we’ve passed.
Kristina is the Headteacher at St Peter’s Methodist Primary School in Canterbury. To find out more about Methodist schools, see below.