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We sometimes need to take a step back, away from the politics, negativity and fear, in order to appreciate what matters most


Michael Pettavel: 'I value how I care deeply about the children, families and each other. How it really is more than a job.'

I’m in the happy position of teaching every day at the moment. The sharp focus that children pull you into with their earnest enquiries and joy at new experiences has helped me see things a bit differently this week.
My head is no longer only focused on funding, staffing and unpicking the complex set of requirements for SEND. I find myself talking about whether a dinosaur weighs more than an elephant, what it would be like to have a pair of operational jet-boots and if your head really does explode if you eat a particularly hot chilli.

It’s an important part of management to do what you ask of others and it helps you appreciate the world for which you are responsible. 

I have learnt how much I value my team, how by delegating and not micro-managing I see them take ownership and responsibility for their ideas and the exciting places it takes our nursery. I value how our staff care deeply about the children, families and each other. How it really is more than a ‘job’ and that we are more than the sum of our parts.

What a stark difference then when I read the news. In our world (especially our political one) division is becoming an acceptable and normal way of behaving. The mainstay of our political elite is criticism and carping – not a good example to set.

The hunger to pick over the fault, rather than see the opportunity, seems pervasive. It prevents an appetite for new ideas and a solution-focused approach. This is the time we need innovation, but the culture of super-accountability can make it seem too risky.

It is all too easy at the moment to be angry and scared (especially if you manage a nursery or you are a head teacher). There doesn’t seem to be an end to the instability and anxiety around funding, and the fuel the media pours onto the fire can make it feel unmanageable. I
mean, even Ofsted got it in the neck last week.

So I am making a conscious decision – I am going to focus on what really is important in my job and pay attention to what goes right. I am going to celebrate the acts of unconditional kindness that I see every day and I am going to remind myself (and you) that we are lucky. Lucky to be doing something that is worthwhile and valuable and lucky to be in a privileged position of trust. My days make me smile – especially when I get to wear jet-boots.

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