A headteacher has gone viral after she penned a heartfelt letter telling parents they would “get through this together” during this third lockdown.
Sarah White, 40, was so moved by a conversation with a parent who had had a “really tough” time during lockdown she decided to write the letter to say that it was “okay”.
The mum-of-two had only intended for her words to be read by parents at Coates Lane Primary school in Barnoldswick, Lancs., but it has touched hearts across the country.
She said thousands of people have written to her to tell her the letter was what many parents “needed to hear” during these testing times.
Sarah, who has been headteacher at the school for eight years, said it has been the “most challenging year” in education due to the pandemic.
But she said she’s been humbled and overwhelmed by the response from parents she’s known for years as well as total strangers.
The letter read: “Dear Parents/Carers,
“Today I write to you as a mother first. This week has been tough. Week 3 of the Lockdown and as a parent I have felt the strain this week.
“My own children have been set an immense amount of work from their school and I literally haven’t been able to keep up with it.
“Between juggling my own job, my children’s school work and generally surviving a pandemic, I really felt the strain this week.
“Times are tough at the moment, our mental health is taking a battering.
“The dark, cold and rainy/snowy weather hasn’t helped so we need to support each other and get through this together.
“You are probably wondering where I am going with this
“Well, my main reason for writing is today well done. You are surviving a pandemic. Whatever your personal circumstances, we think you are doing a great job.
“If your child has had lots of microwave meals, stayed up too late, played too much on the xbox and not finished all their school work – that’s okay.
“We know our pupils are safe, loved and cared for and that is the most important thing at the moment.
“We know that we’ve got high expectations here and we’ve set a lot of work each week.
“All we ask is that you do your best. If your best is a quick 30 minutes of reading or times tables here and there – that’s okay.
“If you want to do all the work we set – that’s okay too.
“Please do not let school work put any extra pressure on you when you are trying to hold down jobs, earn a living and keep your children safe.
“Everyone’s circumstances are very different and we appreciate that.”
Sarah says she’s “just a normal person” and understands all of the difficulties and frustrations other parents are going through – as she’s a parent herself.
She became an educator because she didn’t see it as a job, but rather as a vocation which didn’t end at 3pm when the school gates shut.
She said: “Last week was a really tough week, not just as school but even as a parent.
“It was dark, the weather was terrible. I took a phone call from a parent on Friday about how she was struggling so I felt like I needed to write to my community.
“I get it. I’m not just a headteacher. I’m also a mother. I’m a person. It’s okay to do your best.
“I only meant it for the parents at my school but I can’t believe the thousands of people who have written to me to tell me they needed it.
“It’s so important that we pull through. In the job we do, at schools, we’re working with families all the time and it’s so important.
“This isn’t just my job, this is my life. I’ve been here 14 years. If they’re at home or at school we’re here for them. It doesn’t end at 3pm.
“It’s not a job, it’s a vocation.”
Sarah added it’s been an incredibly challenging year for everyone but it has also brought everyone closer.
She said: “I’m just a normal person doing my job at a little primary school in Lancashire. I feel so humbled.
“It has been the most challenging year in education but it has brought out an absolute drive to do the best they can do.
“It’s brought my team closer together and made us closer to all of our pupils and their families.
“Our staff is just full of lovely people who genuinely care about children.”