Brian Cape, Chief Executive at SIPS Education

Brian Cape, Chief Executive at SIPS Education, looks back at a year of fundamental change, and urges for more of the same community spirit as we head into 2021

None of us want to go through another year like 2020 – but while these are difficult times, there are positives that we should take from the last 12 months. What’s crucial is that any learnings, practices or innovations that have come out of the pandemic shouldn’t dissolve into the ether at the first signs that we’re coming out on the other side.

Yes, the recent news of vaccines is a much-needed boost for us all, but there’s no escaping that the world – and our everyday lives – have changed forever.

As an organisation at the very heart of our communities, we’ve seen first hand the huge socioeconomic impact on the lives of families. We’ve worked tirelessly and passionately to ensure that supporting children and young people’s learning and well-being have remained at the very heart of everything we do.

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve all had a little time to reflect on what’s important to us, and for many that’s meant a change in priorities when it comes to work, travel and what we buy – whether that’s a loaf of bread or a service, such as IT support.

We’ve all ‘shopped local’ more, looked beyond the £ signs and tried to ‘do our bit’ to get our community through these difficult times.

SIPS has always been at the heart of both the family of schools it serves, and the wider Sandwell and Black Country society. Our mutual status enables us to focus on people, communities and places, unfettered by demands for profitability.

For areas such as catering and IT, we have delivered services adapted to the new environment, to ensure not only schools, their staff and pupils could continue their studies, but crucially maintain provisions such as school meals delivery and music lessons – so pupils’ physical and mental wellbeing were also supported.

We’re not alone in ‘doing our bit’, though, and this is no self-congratulatory love letter; it’s a clarion call.

Even now, when we’re starting to see real hope in the shape of vaccines, we should not – must not – let go of the community spirit, innovation and altruism which has helped us overcome the darkest of times.

Let’s stick together.