This blog has loads of nautical sayings and analogies, which I think have been swirling around in my mind over the last couple of days, inspired by a number of different sources – possibly reading about Johnny Depp aka Jack Sparrow or potentially from conversations with my boss, who is ex Royal Fleet Auxiliary and can always shoehorn in a nautical phrase or story to lighten the mood or stress a point. So let’s get underway!
Last century, I was a Girl Guide. One of the games I remember playing a lot was “Ship Shore”, a game which required no equipment and usually involved a mouthy Guider or Guide (eek me!) shouting out the various commands for the rest of the pack to follow and avoid being eliminated. It was a great game to fill the last five minutes of a session and was always enthusiastically played. The pace would increase as commands to “Climb the rigging” followed by “Scrub the deck” would be alternated to produce their own form of sweaty work out, then a surprised shout of “Port” would send all the guides running to the left side, with a few stragglers thinking it was the right side of the room. Then the “Captain’s coming” would provide a breather opportunity, whilst the mouthy Guider or Guide could quickly work out there was an uneven number of Guides still “in” the game and therefore throwing in a “Man over board”, when one Guide has to jump on the back of another Guide, would definitely result in someone being eliminated, unless of course three Guides took it upon themselves to circumnavigate the obvious solution with a more inclusive approach.
The last four months have been really challenging for all of us in so many different ways and yet every day we’ve been prepared to show up to work at our kitchen tables or back in our social distanced school settings, albeit without all the rest of our school community. We’ve played our own version of “Ship Shore”. It’s been frenetic as we’ve responded to the ever changing guidance, produced multiple risk assessments, ordered FSM vouchers at ungodly hours and yet we’ve also had the day job, the routine, the important bits, like monthly management reporting, payroll, invoices, Governors meetings etc. that we have to keep doing to keep our ship afloat. We’ve worked against a backdrop of turbulent stormy times, been in the doldrums at times and yet still turned our faces to the sun every morning, as we clamber out of our berths and up onto deck to deal with whatever the weather is throwing at us that day, the crew are threatening mutiny about or spotting what we need to give a wide berth. We’ve been prepared for any command, to respond quickly in order to not be eliminated or at least not be left behind.
When you think of Girl Guides or Scouts you probably think of the motto “Be prepared”. I’m not involved with Guiding now and my boys have outgrown Scouting, so I’ve no idea whether “Be prepared” is still a thing, but it’s still a thing with me thanks to my Brown Owl and Guide Leaders. I like knowing what I’m doing, what resources I need, who I’m going to be seeing. I’m definitely a planner, a list maker and getting all my ducks in a row kinda gal. So this worldwide pandemic has made me feel like a duck out of water. I’m not sure there are many schools or academies in the UK who can claim that yes they were fully prepared for a worldwide pandemic in Spring 2020 and yet here we all are, navigating through these unchartered waters. If we do have a second wave and experience localised lockdown, I hope that as we now know the ropes, things will be easier, we will feel better prepared.
As we approach the end of the 2019/2020 academic year and we advance towards the welcoming land of Term 7, I raise a glass (of rum, of course) to you all, you’ve been amazing. It’s so nice to know #SBLTwitter is out there. When there has been a man over board you’ve lowered the lifeboats, whatever the time of day and sent a DM or email and responded to a twitter post. I hope your Term 7 allows you time to recover on your own desert island, recharge under the sun and regroup with your families to the best of your abilities. We’ve all had a really bumpy unsettling time and we need to be prepared for the next stage, by being kind to ourselves now.