The last schools have shut their doors for summer, and we can look forward to a few weeks to gather our thoughts, says OLEVI’s Chair, Professor Sir George Berwick.

That’s another school year in the rear view for all of us now the United Kingdom has signed off, joining many of you who have already been enjoying the summer break.

From our memory, the physical release and recharge is almost instant. If you’re unlucky of course, all those illnesses that you’ve kept at bay while you’ve had your nose against the grindstone could rise up just as you close your front door but otherwise you’re golden.

The emotional and intellectual recovery takes a little longer.

During the four years I spent as a Senior County Education Officer, a period in which there was a shorter non-termtime holiday schedule, I promised myself that when I returned to working in schools I would not react like Pavlov’s dog at the end of term and morph into a couch potato at the ring of the end-of-term bell. Instead, I would take it in my stride and carry on, regardless.

I lasted a maximum of three years before my old habit returned. Maybe my lack of mental resilience caused my capitulation. More likely, as with my peers, I had yet again run myself ragged as we tried to shoehorn everything into a rapidly decreasing timeframe with the result that by the end, we had all totally run out of steam.

Adding to our own weaknesses, it was not an easy year.  There are those who hoped things would return to normal but found a new, post-pandemic reality. There have been the swans who in the view of their peers have glided serenely over the pandemic and its aftermath as though nothing has happened while paddling frantically underneath. There are others who took on challenges and made the best of them. Whatever approach you have taken, it has been taxing.

Then, just as those of us in the United Kingdom were thinking things were looking up, our concerns around the pandemic have been starkly replaced with fears over climate change as the highest temperature recorded hit us. In some cases, schools were forced to close and all of us had to take precautions to ensure that the sweltering heat did not damage the health of students and staff.

Our colleagues in Canada will be first back, returning to school in the second week of August. We hope they feel rejuvenated and raring to go. Until then we are also having a break, but before we go we would like to wish you all a well-earned holiday.  That includes those CEOs of Trusts in England who received their budgets and the latest salary awards in the last week of term.

Take care and stay safe.