RECONNECTING: REBUILDING COMMUNITY AFTER COVID
First published in Cheshire Life, June 2021.
Out of everything that children have missed out on due to lock-downs and all the safety measures in
place as a result, the sense of school community, of belonging, must be at the top of the list.
Rosemary Evans, Headteacher at The Firs Independent School, Chester, looks at how we re-establish
those all-important human connections.
The extended absence from the classroom has been a challenge for everyone, parents/carers,
teachers and most significantly, the children. It has chipped away at the established routines and
challenged the norms and values, bringing social, emotional and mental health needs to the very top
of the agenda. However, with the right mindset and culture we have found a way through, putting
our little individuals at the centre of all that we do.
Working as one, children and staff need to focus on the individual child and what is right for them,
ensuring that they reconnect in a positive, safe environment in which to flourish. Quickly re-
establishing the familiar routines, as much as practically possible, and clearly communicating what is
expected, will soon see any little dents in this environment quickly re-established.
A sense of belonging, of connectedness, is one of our basic needs and school should be a place that
children feel welcome, safe and recognised for who they are. Every child is different, and their
individuality celebrated but this sense of community leads to healthier relationships and all-round
better education – not just academically but holistically.
It is our role as adults to equip them with the resourcefulness and resilience to deal with whatever
the world throws their way.
Community is absolutely fundamental to the way we operate as a school, so our latest art project,
‘Angel Wings’ was designed to help us start to rebuild again. Designed to help the children reflect
and rebuild their school community after the difficult year they have all experienced, the project
represents each child at The Firs Independent School. Whilst each feather is unique on its own,
together as a collective, they are much more beautiful and make a stronger impact – a celebration
and representation of our full Firs family reunited.
The children all really embraced taking part and each class has had the opportunity to visit the
display and take a photo in front of the angel wings. The angel wings will also sit in the lunch hall as a
reminder of the special message they represent.
It’s been a tough year, no one will argue with that. But it is important that we learn and move
forwards, that we remain true to our values and re-connect and in doing so building a stronger sense
of belonging and community spirit.