29 Jun Ellie Garraway: COVID-19 LEARNINGS & PREDICTIONS
I’m sure you’d agree that our weeks and months in lockdown have been a challenge.
We’ve all had our trials, but the one thing that’s common between us, is that we’ve learned. Learned how to adapt. Learned how to cope. And learned how to remain optimistic.
Some of us have had to learn quicker – our incredible key workers.
Here, we share comments from Ellie Garrway, CEO of Grit, about what she’s learned, and what she predicts for the future of Children’s Services when some kind of normality is restored.
THINGS I’VE LEARNED
- 1. Immediacy – in ordinary times a lot of the relationships and information about what is happening comes to senior leaders second or third hand. During this period, because there are fewer of us, these have become more immediate and connected. How do we keep some of this alive without becoming over-involved where it’s not appropriate?
- Incisiveness – during the crisis, all formalities and aspects that blur understanding and action are removed, and people get right to the heart of things immediately. This makes a positive difference to us and the people we work with.
- Clarity of purpose – during this time everyone is really clear about exactly what we’re trying to achieve, so there is a strong alignment on purpose. As a leader you are clear that you’re not the only person with an idea about where things are going.
- Distance – some things really do work better done remotely. It’s a really good way to bring geographically dispersed people together and you can do brilliant training and meetings.
- Riding the wave – I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to go with riding the wave rather than feeling you have to be the person who always generates what happens next. You can wait for things to emerge, so that you can be available to address changes as they occur.
MY PREDICTIONS FOR THE FUTURE
- We can no longer dismiss the importance of certain categories of workers – for example, waste collectors, carers supermarket workers. Just the fact that we are calling them key workers and recognizing the critical role they play in keeping us going means that previous dismissive attitudes to them can’t continue
- Some of the community actions which have emerged are irreversible – people not only knowing their neighbours now, but talking and supporting each other; the huge volunteer responses
- Young people, in particular, have experienced trauma through this – we will have to support them through the trauma they have dealt with and the consequences of their isolation and I would like to predict there will be some funding for that!
- Organisations have been forced into flexibility in terms of delivery models and working styles and this will leave its mark. Those organisations which thrive will be the ones who hold onto this agile style of working.
- A prediction I’d love to come true is one where we seriously reflect on whether pushing children and young people through exams is the right way to assess their academic ability – if we’ve been able to take an immediate decision now to stop exams then why are they so important in other times?