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Leadership Likes: Mr King

Leadership Likes……”normal”

In the week where Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd, the balance between the words ‘normal’, ‘reasonable’, ‘expected’, ‘justified’ have been on my mind….

All hail the “new normal”!

This phrase entered our vernacular sometime last summer as business, home and personal lives adapted to restrictions upon hitherto ‘normal’ activity.  There followed the great office space debate; “but our teams seem to be coping with remote working”, “we can make efficiencies by keeping an element of mobility in the workforce”, “it is nice not to have the commute”.

Later, and increasingly more vocal, are the counter-arguments surrounding social connection and the direct impact on mental health emerged. One imagines the long-term productivity of remote working is at risk if the long-term mental health of co-workers declines through lack of genuine social interaction.

All of the above is, dare I say it, a little ‘naval-gazing’ by those at the age and stage to be deciding how others should work. What about the trainees who learn by simply seeing an experienced colleague in action, or sharing a desk, or an office? What about those leaving education who benefit so much from meeting people at different life stages at work? Not to mention the creativity explosion which comes from two (or more) heads being better than one?

And, of course, if there were ever any doubt, school children still need to go to school.  We have learnt about online schooling, and can implement positives as a result, but children belong within 3 feet of other children as much as possible, and the best video conference in the world can’t change that.

So, go backwards? Certainly not.  Not in the DNA of Croydon High School either, I’m afraid.

But go ‘normal’? Well, can we first explore normal?

One of my favourite films (I would be lying to say it is my children’s’ favourite) is The Incredibles and it contains the exchange: “everyone is special in their own way” from Helen, the mother, to which the character Dash responds: “which is another way of saying nobody is”.

Here at Croydon High, we are firmly in Helen’s camp. We actively encourage each pupil to find ‘their thing’ and pursue it as far as they wish, without judgment or fear.  But more than that, we want them to accept that others have different interests, views, hobbies, talents, worries, celebrations and expectations. Special in their own way. And finally, we hope it is “normal” for that to be true not just here at school, but throughout their lives.

So, when the new normal arrives, let us hope that we don’t reset the clock to March 2020. Let us hope that the challenges each of the pupils have faced in their own way are used to forge an even more purposeful outlook on life. May the challenges still present in societies across the globe make meaningful and sustained positive change with the minimum of animosity. And as we begin to interact with others of different ages, stages, families and communities, perhaps we can do so knowing that ‘normal’ is actually being different from others in some way – and that this is okay for everyone involved.

Better still, perhaps we can all increase our efforts to find out more about other people’s normal and to celebrate it.

David King

Deputy Head (Pastoral)