"I can't thank them enough" - why Sheffield mum supports Wave of Thanks campaign for city teachers

"This past year and a bit has been unique. Everybody’s experience during the pandemic has been unique, despite us all having lived through this shared event. So I share this not only as a chief customer officer at Sheffield firm Twinkl but as a mum of two primary-aged daughters, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a former primary school teacher and as a human.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 6:00 am
Home learning.

“In March 2020, everything changed. We could see this unknown virus spreading across the world, seeing it edge closer to home. We could see what was happening elsewhere and what was going to be happening here soon. As a mum, I was anxious, becoming more cautious, thinking about how to explain to my children what was happening without them becoming too scared. At work, we saw schools closing and lockdowns being introduced.

As many of you will recognise, the demands of teaching, even outside of a pandemic, are huge. I left it after six years for a better work-life balance and to allow me to be the best mum I could be. The reason I joined Twinkl was to help teachers and to continue to play my part in educating children.

As the office closed and schools soon after, I too was faced with the challenge of trying to work from home whilst trying (and failing) to help my children to learn, keep them safe and happy, provide consistency, my attention and love. When Twinkl’s members needed me the most, so did my family, and the days during lockdowns were spent trying to juggle all of these demands, frantic days and frazzled nights. I didn’t expect it to be a breeze but being an experienced teacher and having all of Twinkl’s resources, I thought we’d cope reasonably well...turns out I needed all of the support I could get.

Without the help of the teachers and whole school community at Hunter’s Bar Infants School, I can confidently say that I would not have been able to manage all of this. During the first lockdown, work was sent home every day, teachers kept in touch - and the school supported us parents too, reassuring us that we were doing a great job. The parents’ WhatsApp groups were a life-saver and helped the kids to keep in touch.

Fast forward to September 2020. Unfortunately, my kids couldn’t return before the holidays because the school had a high number of key worker children. So when they returned for the start of the autumn term into Y1 and Y2, they’d not been in school for six months, which is huge for any child but particularly for those whose own experiences of school had already been so short-lived.

I remember that day like it was yesterday. The headteacher, deputy head, teachers and support staff were all waiting in the playground to welcome the children back. You could tell, even from behind the masks, that they were as pleased as we were for all children to be back in school, returning to some sort of normality. My eldest was excited and couldn’t wait to return. She skipped off into class and didn’t look back.

My youngest, however, was anxious, clinging to my leg as tightly as she could. Through her tears, she kept repeating: “I don’t want to go to school, mummy.” It was heart-breaking and, despite holding it together for so long, I finally cracked too. Seeing my tears, the teachers supported my daughter into school, taking extra time and care to guide her in. One of the staff said they wished they could give me a hug - which I appreciated hugely - and then off I went home to log on. Soon after, I got a call from school letting me know that she was fine. Such a huge relief and a kind gesture.

We all know how the next few months went. More lockdowns and learning from home. All the time, the school kept in touch. I can’t thank them enough. When the January lockdown started, after only one day back, the school sprung into action.

Now back at school again, I know we’re still not back to ‘normal’. I know the staff at Hunter’s Bar still feel a long way from ‘normal’ and continue to face challenges each day. We all cannot wait until that day finally comes - the crowded summer fair, tombola in the hall. All of those wonderful things you take for granted but mean so much.

So to all of the staff at Hunter’s Bar Infant School: thank you. Not only from me but from all of the families you have supported.”

Sheffield online publisher Twinkl is running a Wave of Thanks campaign to celebrate and thank Sheffield's teaching community. Post on social media using #WaveofThanksSheffield and messages will be placed on digital billboards in the city from June 10 to June 24.