School leadership during coronavirus: supporting our community using the four P’s

We spoke to Paula Ledger, one of the leaders who took part in our #LeadersLikeYou stories, to catch-up on how she’s finding leading a school during the coronavirus pandemic. Below, Paula reflects on the framework Prendergast School in London have been leaning on to help guide them through the evolving situation.  

“The four P’s have been incredibly important for us during the lockdown – Purpose, People, Planning and Potential.

“Purpose: staff in schools want to make a difference, and never more so than at times like these.  It has been important for us to regularly revisit our school’s vision and purpose together as a staff – keeping the students at the centre of everything we do.  This supports staff to do their very best for every child – from the day to day setting and marking of work in a virtual world, to delivering food hampers to the homes of our most vulnerable students.

“People: our community is vital to us and communication is the key to success.  Wellbeing and safeguarding is at the heart of all we do and we know that sometimes with emails, it can be easy to miss vital clues about how people are feeling or coping.  We aim to make sure that every member of staff is contacted daily by their line manager, either over Microsoft Teams or on the phone. We also make sure that every student is contacted daily and is spoken to regularly.  As leaders, it is also important that we take out time for ourselves and our own wellbeing – as we get to grips with leading schools in our changing virtual world.

“Planning: we are living in a rapidly changing world and students and staff are quickly learning new skills.  It’s important not to be swept along and to carefully plan each stage of the journey. We’re planning how change will be supported and we’re listening carefully to the needs of the community as we do this.

“Potential: we know that when we emerge from lockdown there will be a new world which has an unlocked potential. It’s important to ask ourselves –  how are we as leaders preparing our schools for this new age, with new online skills?  How will we support the students who have been in lockdown in difficult spaces, or support students to address knowledge or skill gaps?  How will we build on the extraordinary kindness that has been demonstrated in our communities over this time?  Two things are clear, schools have the potential to be stronger when they emerge from this crisis and there will be a new found appreciation for all key workers.” 

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