Mrs Ania Hildrey, headteacher of Abbot’s Lea School, gives Educate magazine a glimpse into her hectic work schedule and personal life during just one day of the school’s operation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Woolton-based school specialises in the highest quality education for students with Autism and a range of associated learning needs. Mrs Hildrey joined in 2016 and since then, Abbot’s Lea has become one of the largest and most successful special schools in the country, catering for over 260 students, aged 3-19.
5am: I wake up, get the dog sorted, get ready, do the house chores, prepare everything for my 6-year-old daughter with complex needs to get her set up for the day.
6am: I wake my daughter, do her meds (she has complex medical needs), have breakfast, get her dressed, brush teeth, set her up with a ‘fill the gap activity’ whilst her dad gets another hour of sleep.
7am: I drive to work
7:45am: Arrive at work
8:15am: We start the day with a leadership team briefing to review student and staff numbers and adjust plan for the day
8:50am: All staff briefing to clarify focus for this day
9:00am: Welcome students of key workers and get them set up with the day’s activities
9am – 12:00pm: Clear the whole school up ready for inevitable shut down and deep clean
12:00pm: Returns to the local authority and the Department for Education on status of students on site and workforce wellbeing/productivity
12:10pm: Conduct risk assessment again and if staying open, design a rota of staff for the coming 3 weeks of the national lockdown
12:30pm: I say goodbye to majority of the team whom I will be sending home today to work remotely
12:40pm: Develop a shortlist for a middle leadership job vacancy
13:30pm: Decide whether to go ahead with the recruitment and if so, design a bizarre event to take place next week. Probably remotely – mind boggles!
15:00pm: Dismiss students and staff who were on site
15:30pm: Take care of any admin and close up
17:00pm: Drive home
18-19:00pm: Get to be a mother for one hour, whilst my husband then starts his 8-hour workday, after being an all-day carer and teacher for our daughter
19:00pm: Bedtime meds for my daughter, story time, night night!
19:30pm: Start work again (all non-urgent comms) plus catch up on the governmental updates and a couple of calls to check in with my son in the RAF Lossiemouth and wider family/friends. Run some errands for others unable to leave home
Midnight: Collapse into bed and try to get some sleep until 5am the next morning.