Resilience: how teamwork has helped us through this Covid-impacted year
As a relatively small Trust, there is no doubt that the culture we have created across our five primary schools has meant we have been in a really good position to respond to the challenges we have faced over these past 16 months.
You can talk about structures and systems, but you also have to trust, and at CPET we are very big on teamwork. The five headteachers and I work very closely, the core Trust team has supported us, and we have team leaders and subject leaders across the schools working together. So, I think we have been able to utilise those systems that we already had in place to enable us to be more resilient in this period.
Being able to respond to the crisis – and learning lessons as we go – has been a huge part of building resilience. But we have also worked collaboratively with other MATs and within the Cambridge Teaching School Network, for instance, as well as professional and technology partners with whom we have been able to develop together and learn from each other. We have made sure that we share what we are doing. As our expertise has grown, this has given colleagues across the Trust opportunities to show what they can do and unearthed some hidden talents we had not tapped into before.
As we had that structure and capacity to support, this assisted with aspects such as risk assessments, which would usually take somebody hours and hours to do, whereas if you work as a group of schools you can develop this together, populate it, and ultimately make it bespoke for each school so this is a lot quicker. Trustees have been very involved too, and so the confidence that came with their support, questions and challenge to all the Headteachers empowered them and senior leaders as well.
Relationships are so important to resilience. We did not want people to feel that we did not trust them and gave them the support and confidence to go and work with the children, families and communities, who actually at first were very anxious. This has not gone away completely, of course, and I know we still have a lot of work to do. But it is the way you work that is important, both through our ‘hero’ people and through the culture we have created, that supports sustainable resilience for the future.
Lesley Birch is CEO/Executive Principal of Cambridge Primary Education Trust (CPET)