Mariella Ardron was recently appointed as the Principal of Chelsea Academy. Here she talks about the journey she’s been on in 2020.
When I was interviewed for my current role at the start of the year, I can remember chatting with the other candidates about this ‘strange virus from China’ and we even joked about perhaps having to start our Easter holidays early if schools were shut! Little was I to know that a few weeks later everyone’s lives were to change radically as a result of the global pandemic. Fast forward to the start of September and I found myself reopening a school that had been largely shut for five months, trying to organise 1200 students into ‘year zones’ with no appreciation for the building or how the school worked!
Chelsea Academy serves a thriving local community. Despite the glamourous-sounding location there are deep pockets of deprivation and need. The school was set up in 2009 by the Diocese of London and Kensington and Chelsea to provide the only mixed CofE provision in the area. High on the wall of the central tower reaching to the first floor, is an enormous and beautiful wooden anchor. At Chelsea we talk about being spiritually ‘Anchored in Christ‘ and this also acknowledges our location by Chelsea Creek, leading down to the Thames. The kids proudly recite and genuinely try to live out the academy’s five Christian values of Joy, Perseverance, Forgiveness, Charity and Servant Leadership. Taking over a school in corona times has undeniably been a challenge but my staff have been phenomenal, generously placing their trust in me to reopen safely, so that we can welcome all our children back. I remember hearing someone describe faith as being an ‘extraordinary backdrop to the primary and mundane.’ I am constantly reminded of this as I walk around my new school and see the kids noisy and engaged, happy to be back with their friends and at school. Their ordinary framed by the extraordinary.