School Dogs

Molly & Jasper Blog 2021

Challenge

We’ve heard that word a lot recently: It’s a challenge! Why is everything such a challenge? Bring on the next challenge…

And whilst life remains quite normal for us, we wag our tails in respect for the little people and their grown ups and the big people who work in our school.

On the last day of the autumn term, The Boss told all the big people to take home everything they needed to deliver “remote learning”, and no this is nothing to do with that black gadget The Boss is constantly trying to find in her lounge and is generally hidden under Jasper’s belly.

Throughout the Christmas holidays we heard her question the presenter on the “The News” with a “Come on! What’s happening for schools?” And we heard her tapping out emails to parents empathising with them for wanting to keep their child away from school on the first day back, and writing that she was sure by the end of the week “something will have changed.”

The first day arrived with less little people than normal but a “business as usual approach”. The Boss had a number of staff off having to self-isolate due to the “App” on their phone (no idea who App is, normally it’s The Boss’ mum on the phone, the “one who gives us treats” or The Boss’ children...) so The Boss was arranging more big people to come in to look after the little people. And then that evening we’re sitting there waiting for the man with the wild hair to speak words of wisdom and he announced that the schools were to shut. From the next day!

The Boss’ mobiles were bleeping, her laptop was pinging and the landline normally only used by the one who gives treats was ringing.

Now one thing we can say about The Boss is she is prepared. She says it goes back to her days of being a Girl Guide: Be Prepared... to prepare oneself by previous thinking out and practising how to act on any accident or emergency so that one is never taken by surprise.

So, our prepared Boss had already drafted letters to the big people, and so it should have been so easy. With a press of the button a variety of letters should have gone out to those who wouldn’t be able to come to school and to those who they knew needed childcare. The Boss had arranged a questionnaire to go out in the autumn term where the big people could say what Job they did if they needed their child to be in school in case of another lockdown.

But no. The emails kept pinging and the phones kept ringing and we could hear her saying, “let’s just keep trying”. Turns out too many people in The Country were trying to use the same system and the system said it had had enough and went to bed. And ten o’clock passed, and so did eleven... and I’m watching her every tap-tap on the keyboard as she sends out letters individually to the big people on her laptop and answer the emails as they ping in. And I think she’s forgotten that we have missed our evening widdle in the garden and more importantly our before bed biscuit... and still she tap tap taps. And so is the secretary in her house too apparently. And finally, at one in the morning she says, “okay, time for the garden”.

And then she wakes us four hours later as she “needs to get working and see what the guidance says”. I’m not sure who The Guidance is, but The Boss was waiting and waiting and so she made up her own. The Guidance finally turned up a few days later. The Boss didn’t seem impressed with it.

In the first lockdown everyone did their very best but there weren’t that many little people in school, and it was springtime and the weather quickly warmed up. The Boss says this one is more of a challenge. The Guidance has said the little people should be having a minimum of four hours' worth of lessons in key stage 2, a minimum of three hours in KS1 and less for the smallest little people. And so The Teachers need to be planning for this, and marking their work and giving them feedback, and there are still over 200 little people in school and they all need to be in bubbles. Every Thursday she gets out large sheets of paper to work out which big people will be where the following Monday, some big people can’t be in school at all, and there’s always

someone needing to self-isolate whilst they wait for ten days to pass or for a test to say they can come in. And this week we’ve seen The Boss watch how to put sticks up her nose and down her throat. Some things you two-legged folk do completely baffle us, but The Boss says it will stop The Virus spreading. So that sounds good. But she also says, “that’s likely to bring a challenge with staffing”.

And there’s that word again, challenge.

Challenge is one of the characteristics the big people help the little people to develop. To help the little people to enjoy a challenge, to believe they can learn and improve with effort and to be

open minded and flexible.

And it’s a good thing that they do, as The Boss will tell you, even after being a headteacher for twenty years, in the last few months she has felt and continues to feel challenged.

But we also know everyone is feeling challenged in whatever they are doing at the moment. And it’s good to find comfort in the fact that we are all in this together.

So, as The Boss keeps saying:

Be kind to each other. Be kind to yourself.

Take care and keep safe.

We’re all doing a great job,

Lots of wags, as ever

Molly x

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