Starting in Lagos while in Glasgow

Saxton Bampfylde appointed Gregor Polson as Headteacher at Lagos Preparatory and Secondary School in the height of the pandemic in 2020. Here he shares with us his experience on successfully getting on board with his new school, building relationships and keeping connected, all while working remotely from his home in Glasgow.

Gregor writes: 

En route from my previous post in South America, I stopped off in Scotland for what I thought would be two weeks’ Christmas holiday before commencing my new role as Headteacher of Lagos preparatory and secondary school. Due to the closure of the Nigerian visa service, that two weeks turned into four months and it was from a kitchen table, behind a screen, in the city of Glasgow that I began my first experience of working in Africa!

My first priorities were meeting key people; the board, admin staff, senior leaders and discussing with teachers and support staff their challenges in remote learning. In that time one of the things that struck me most about my new colleagues was the Nigerian love of laughing.

Through experiencing some lighter moments together, I felt a positive bond developing with fellow staff before meeting them in person. In other moments, making buildings decisions proved rather tricky as since I hadn’t physically been inside the school at that point, some of my suggestions were perhaps a little way off!

A key area I intended to look at soon after my arrival was growing school numbers. Covid has obviously had a significant impact on the school roll, particularly in the kindergarten. Many parents of young children felt that online learning in early years education wasn’t a suitable option and decided to withdraw their children for this period of time. However we are looking forward to welcoming most of these students back this month and indeed even more of our youngest students in September.

Internet connection and speed is never completely reliable in Lagos but we have made the most of the situation and have set up successful online learning and more recently, hybrid learning for a percentage of our students. Many of our children have been learning from a base in the UK which has been ideal as we are in the same time zone. Hybrid learning, although giving our families an excellent choice, does place extra challenges on our teaching staff.

As third waves are reported daily at the moment in many countries, we can only hope that our well laid plans to be back in physically and full-time in September at LPSS go ahead as smoothly as we all wish!

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