Read the headteacher's heartfelt letter which tells Harborough parents 'don't worry, you are doing enough - and thank you for everything'

Dan Cleary, prinicipal at Robert Smyth Academy in Market Harborough, wrote an open letter for the community, which he also sent to the Harborough Mail. We are delighted to print it in full.

By News reporter
Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 9:39 am

An open letter to the parents and families of my students

Dear Parent/Carer,

Thank you for all the support that you have given your children to make the best of their time at home during school closure. I know that this is far from ideal and many of you have truly humbled me this week as you balance this work alongside working commitments, other children, other relatives and all set against your own anxieties about the national crisis that we face. You have been proactive throughout this week and my colleagues are lucky to work with such committed partners.

Robert Smyth Academy

Thank you for caring about the amount of work that is being completed at home. I would like to reassure you that what you are doing is enough. It doesn’t matter if you get a full day of activities done, maths work completed and an essay written up before lunch or whether you take a day to recalibrate, talk about how you are feeling and sit outside in the sun.

You are raising children and doing your best at a time when they are trying to process what is happening outside. If there are days when you just feel like you need to take the pressure off, have a cup of tea together and start the weekend a bit earlier than usual then, in my opinion, it makes sense to do that.

I have been so impressed by the way that you are promoting the positive mental health of our students by giving them breaks, time outdoors, time to make and create, to talk and to relax. This is brilliant.

Thank you for emailing kind words of support and encouragement to our staff team but also for asking what to do if home education hasn’t started as well as you might have hoped.

Dan Cleary, prinicipal at Robert Smyth Academy

I wanted to share a few thoughts that I hope might be helpful particularly as this has been a theme of some questions (take with a pinch of salt).

My experience of education is that the positive moments will come but they don’t always come quickly. I have found that it can be powerful if you can seize upon small steps of progress, creativity or hard work as an opportunity for recognition and praise. By having a focus on the positive you can nurture these positives until they grow. Those small steps eventually become big strides, and this takes time.

It can be worth keeping in mind that achievement comes in different forms; comparison is not always helpful.

As all children are different, it is probably not useful to compare them because they will all have to navigate changing circumstances and make peace with them in their own way. I feel that the strength we have all shown in the last two weeks has been rooted in the idea of community and mutual support.

Robert Smyth Academy

I remain committed to helping you so that your children continue to learn at home, and my colleagues will continue to communicate with you to try to help as best we can. I would like to thank you for entering this spirit ofcollaboration which has been a real feature of the first week of closure.

I would like to thank you for the way that you have done your best to keep a routine in place for our students.

As we approach the planned Easter holiday period on Friday, I feel that it is important that we give students, parents and staff time to recharge ahead of the new half term that begins on Monday 20 th April.

The experience of supporting students with remote learning is a new challenge and I want to use this time to reflect carefully on the lessons from the first two weeks of remote learning. I will be reliant on your feedback on how the first two weeks have worked for you and your family so that we can improve the student experience.

Dan Cleary, prinicipal at Robert Smyth Academy

Finally, I would also like to say a personal thank you for the spirited community response that you have shown.

As someone who has been a Principal for less than two years, your support during this time has overwhelmed me. You did not need to email to ask how I was coping or approach me in public to offer your help or send me encouragement on Twitter, but you did.

The last two weeks have been challenging in so many ways but throughout it all, you have shown patience, understanding and gratitude whilst I have att empted to navigate our school into unchartered waters and make decisions whilst holding onto our values and principles.

I hope that this is a small opportunity for me to reciprocate the same encouragement that you have shown me and more importantly, that you give your children. Whenever we come out of all of this, I will have learnt more about the hard working and thoughtful community that I serve and for that I am very grateful.

Yours faithfully,

Dan Cleary


Robert Smyth Academy

Click here to read his reaction after speaking to the Harborough Mail