As principals, teachers and SNAs return to school this week and next, it is a perfect time for reconnections and nurturing new relationships.
The return to school this academic year will be a significant transition for many, particularly after the disruptions caused by the pandemic. There will be normal transitions, such as moving up a class, changing teacher or starting a new school, which can all bring apprehension and worry.
But children, their families and staff may also be carrying the impact of unexpected change and transition due to Covid19, such as bereavement, job losses or destructive conflict in the home.
Evidence shows that people often turn to a trusted practitioner, such as a school principal or a teacher for help, particularly during times of transition or change.
Making these connections and picking up on cues may be harder now with mask wearing and boundaries in place around parents being in the school. So many of the opportunities to engage, such as when dropping or picking up a child or when homework or lunch was left at home and dropped in, now involve phoning ahead.
But opportunities still exist so is vital that school staff are given support to develop their knowledge and skills to take a relationship-centred approach while looking after their time and boundaries for their own wellbeing.
Our evidence informed training raises awareness of the factors that contribute to the creation of a safe and secure school environment where the concerns and contributions of parents, children and teachers are acknowledged.
It is heartening to see that our new training programme, ‘ABLE4School Leaders – How and why relationships matter in schools’ is now fully booked for September/October.
We have now opened a waiting list, showing the interest there is in learning more about the transformative power of positive relationships in schools.
As well as supporting principals and aspiring school leaders’ understanding of the positive impact of supportive relationships in schools, our Centre for School Leadership endorsed programme provides a framework via our ABLE brief intervention model to manage their time and boundaries during difficult conversations.
This is so important for their own health and wellbeing as we know the emotional toil of the work can be hard, such as managing conflict at school.
Our vision is that all frontline practitioners, including principals and aspiring school leaders will have the skills and knowledge to respond in a sensitive and focused way when turned to for help.
We look forward to welcoming our first group of participants this autumn and to supporting a community of practice ahead.
In the meantime, our thoughts are with all returning principals, school staff, parents/carers and children as they face a new school year ahead.