I should start by saying an enormous thank you for ensuring that this week, in supporting the return of our pupils and students, has been as smooth as it could possibly have been. It’s interesting, talking to many of you out there, those of you who don’t spend every working day in schools and colleges, about how people perceive how challenging this week was going to be for us. Yes, it has been a challenge (in fact in some respects it’s been a logistical nightmare) but we have all played your part in ensuring that the pupils, students and the staff body got through this period in the best shape possible but, it hasn’t been as apocalyptic as the wider community perception might have been. Why is that? On one hand that’s because it is hard for those who don’t spend time in schools and colleges to really understand what we do and assume that in trying to manage hundreds of children and young people there is an impossibility to the task – which we know isn’t true as we do that management day in and day out. On the other hand, I know that there is a genuine admiration and appreciation in this community for the work that we do and a deep understanding of the commitment we all make to doing it right, getting it right and doing the best by our children and young people. For that I thank you all.

I’ve been taken, this week, by the wider coverage around International Women’s Day. And we have Mother’s Day to look forward to this Sunday. Although, undoubtedly, that day in the UK is used to celebrate the contribution that mothers make, it seems to be pretty insignificant when you consider some of the challenges that women face in this country and especially around the world. I felt the theme this year #ChooseToChallenge was particularly powerful. This theme reminded us all – and so made it not about women, or men for that matter – that we are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions, each and every day. We all can choose to challenge and ‘call out’ gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. And working together we can all help to create a truly inclusive community and then a stronger and better world. As the slogan says from ‘challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge’.

I don’t think that this message needed highlighting but the desperately sad case of the missing woman Sarah Everard has brought into very clear focus the need for us all to do our bit and take a stand.

An important message that’s relevant, that’s pertinent, every day, all year and for all years.

‘I am grateful to be a woman. I must have done something great in another life.’ Maya Angelou

‘Let’s be very clear: Strong men – men who are truly role models – don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful. People who are truly strong lift others up. People who are truly powerful bring others together.’ Michelle Obama

Hopefully you’ll find some time out and about and, if you do, I hope it stays dry this weekend. And thank you and best wishes to all the mothers out there. I hope that your families can show their love and appreciation – remotely, of course.