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Sarah Hague

Headteacher, Les Quennevais School

September 2020 – a date firmly imprinted on my mind, would allow us to launch innovative approaches in teaching and learning, in our long awaited new Les Quennevais School building. An ambitious investment in young people in the west of the Island, which had taken years of careful planning, thinking and persuading was almost in touching distance.

And then... it crept up on us with unimaginable stealth – COVID-19. I remember vividly, sitting in our reception office late at night, with colleagues listening in stunned silence to the Prime Minister of the UK, making the unprecedented announcement, cancelling the GCSE and A-level exam series for 2020.

And so... over the next few days the exodus from our safe, secure, structured world began. We had to say goodbye to Year 11. We clapped them out in a guard of honour. They had been ours for 5yrs and it seemed as if they were being robbed of a chance to prove themselves and experience those memorable moments, such as Leavers days and their Leavers Ball. We made promises to them that we believed we could keep. We told them Covid would end soon and they would get their Prom and we would all be together again.

And so... we did what we do best. We focused on what we could do, not what we couldn’t. A School is not really a building at all, it’s the people that make a school and the reward for carefully nurturing and developing a special culture over many years is, watching it spring into action, without hesitation or question.

And then... it happened, we remained together and strong as a school, even though we were very much apart. Technology was at the forefront of change, allowing us to work in ways you never think you can, until you have to, but it was people who really made the difference.

And so... together we were able to support our families as they learned to live a different life that had been thrust upon them. Enabling learning to continue was at the forefront of each day. It was a privilege to open our doors for our students whose families were essentially employed in the Island. When I look back at all the things we achieved as a community, I could not be prouder.

And then... we had our new school waiting for us in September 2020, as planned. But we have something even better than the amazing building, we have a community that values being part of something special. A community that cherishes being back together again, despite Covid-19 being very much an ongoing presence in our lives.

And so... 2020 has reminded me that leadership is sometimes about harnessing the collective endeavour. 2020 showed us that, our profession delivers so much more than an Education. School is the glue that holds families together. It is such a privilege to be part of something that truly can and does make a difference to all our young people.