Building strong relationships

Headmistress Rebecca Mitchell explores how building strong and positive relationships has a huge impact for our pupils

As we return to school this week, watching the children settle so quickly into the routines of the new school year highlights to me the fundamental importance of relationships to a child’s experience of school.

From their first days in nursery trying to negotiate sharing and turn-taking, to the ups and downs of friendships experienced in older children, children are learning to form relationships with those outside their immediate family. Time spent in school gently moulds and develops the characteristics children need, both to develop strong and healthy relationships and also to navigate more challenging relationships in the future.

Lockdown highlighted across the world the fact that school is about far more than the core subject curriculum. Heywood children were fortunate to continue their learning remotely from the very first day of school closure before the Easter break and, during this time learning from home, parents commented positively on the warm relationships that they saw between their child and their teachers whilst learning online. Never before have parents experienced something so close to being a fly on the wall in their child’s classroom but witnessing their children’s online form times, teaching videos and live help sessions encouraged many parents to write to me to share how impressed they were by their child’s teacher and the relationship they have with their child.

Heywood is a school that thrives on happy and strong relationships. When staff forge a strong relationship with the children they teach, it creates an environment in which children feel secure and encourages them to ask for help, to share their feelings, and to work hard at overcoming their challenges. Teachers who know their pupils well identify quickly a child’s needs and next steps.

A strong culture of respect resonates throughout the school, but also one of warmth and of happiness. This was highlighted to me yesterday, as it often is by visitors. A candidate interviewing for an administrative role commented that the same warm, family atmosphere is as evident today as it was when the school was much smaller and her own two children attended the nursery thirty years ago.

Already, in the space of three days, new relationships are flourishing. New bonds are forming, and those bonds will be the children’s support mechanism throughout the year. Those friends and teachers will be standing alongside them as they approach the challenges they will inevitably face, but they will also be cheering them on and celebrating with them when they succeed. And they will all succeed, because every one of our children has the potential to achieve their dreams, whatever they might be.

This promises to be an excellent year!