VOICES OF LEWISHAM
“ … exhausted and extremely proud of the resilience shown by the staff and children”
Mitzi Nichol is headteacher of Stillness Junior School and a mother of three. The pandemic has made her realise how much can be overcome when people work together.
“Teaching and learning practices have dramatically altered during this pandemic; teaching has been re-organised in various ways. As a school we have had to adapt quickly to the changing environment and find new ways of communicating and teaching our children, whilst ensuring they are safe and well. Staff had to adapt to these new systems quickly, including Google Classrooms, to ensure the transition to blended online learning was as seamless as possible. We have also had to come to terms with the loss of a colleague to COVID-19 over the Christmas period.
“This has made me feel both exhausted and extremely proud of the resilience shown by the staff and children who have all come together to ensure the teaching and learning continues. On a personal level, I am also juggling my three children: one who is at university, one at college and the youngest at secondary school.
“My staff, governors and parents and carers have all worked as a team to ensure the best outcomes for the children. I am also in contact with all the head teachers in the borough, which is a real help. We support each other and share ways to deal with the daily challenges we are encountering. The local authority have also been incredibly supportive and offer weekly Zoom calls to answer all things “COVID-19”!
“I do have some fears, although this last year has taught me that we can overcome anything thrown at us, so long as we continue to work together. I do worry about the gaps in the children’s learning; the access to high level digital technology for all; and the children not having the opportunity to enjoy playing together, collaborating and securing relationships with each other, supporting their wellbeing, teamwork and outdoor physical activities.
“My most positive experiences during the pandemic have been the sense of community and how much we can achieve and overcome together. The staff have gone over and beyond to provide for the school community in many ways, for example by adapting lessons, making phone calls home and engaging the children with a virtual sports week.
“My greatest hope is that this pandemic is over soon and the children can return to enjoying school life. It will be nice to hear the footsteps and chatter of the children as they move around the buildings. And of course no more Zoom “meetings”!
“The pandemic has made me acutely aware that we have a variety of needs in our school community. As a result we have worked hard to ensure all our children have access to laptops or computers at home so they can access the online learning, and have provided everyone with a writing book and pencil. We have also been supporting Lewisham Food Bank and will continue to do this as much as we can.”
Mitzi spoke to us in February 2021.