The head of my children’s primary school is leaving today after 26 years in the post. Yes, I did say 26 years!
He leaves with a great deal of sadness amongst staff, parents and pupils who have all valued his leadership in many ways.
After such a long stint in the post (some of the parents and staff were pupils when he first started) its hard to do justice to a farewell. So much of the school, its character, achievements and even physical appearance, are inextricably linked to him and what he has brought to it.
The farewell ceremony at Open Evening was very touching, not least because it showed how much he shies from the limelight and is very humble about his achievements.
But the words of his leaving letter and his farewell speech resonated with me about the challenges and essence of what being a parent is, as in a way, being a Head is like being a parent of 250ish children. “I have not always got things right. Sometimes there is no ‘right’ but I have always tried to do the best for our school, and our school has enjoyed immense success.”
Isn’t that so true of us as parents? I know I certainly don’t get things right
all a lot of the time, and what ‘right’ is depends on your values and approach to life. But I know that I try my darndest to be a half decent parent to my two incredibly precious children.
“A Head is only ever a custodian” he added as he sought to reassure us that the school won’t fall apart without him. Same with us as parents – we do not own our children, and cannot force them to be the person they will be. So too, we need to be aware that we’ll make mistakes, human as we are in all our fallible glory, and so we need to go easy on ourselves when we don’t get it right.
I myself have not always agreed with some of the things done at our school, largely because my eldest was at a different school for the first two years and so I have something to compare with. BUT, I appreciate that so much of what they do is done with professionalism and care (that rare double act these days). I appreciate what a hugely difficult job it is to lead so many children and staff, all with various values and approaches to life, and that it takes courage to stick to one vision and not be swayed by various other ideas. We need grace to recognise that being a Head is like being a parent of 250 kids – perish the thought, two is quite enough thank you!
Times like this, when we say farewell and present gifts of thanks to leaders of our community, are very special opportunities for us to publicly value, honour and thank them. They do a superb job, under many pressures, and all in the public eye – thank goodness my parenting isn’t under such scrutiny…..