Linda Moule, our Principal, retires today after 12 years at ESMS. Having joined as Head of The Mary Erskine School in 2009, she was appointed to Vice Principal of ESMS before taking on the role of Principal in 2018. The School has thrived under her leadership and we could not let her go without telling us about her highlights during her time with us:
What is the most significant change you have observed in your time at ESMS?
Our approach to digital learning which has transformed children’s learning experiences.
What makes ESMS such a special place?
The shared vision and common goal that everyone who works at ESMS holds – we are here for the children and being part of their learning and growing up is such a privilege.
Is there a particular individual who has made a lasting impression on you, during your time at ESMS?
During my first Carbisdale trip I did the 2-day expedition with a group of S3 pupils. It was a very long and challenging walk through lots of boggy ground and one pupil found it tough going (just as I did) but they kept going and as we journeyed together we kept each other’s spirits up and shared lots of good chat. The pupil’s determination to not give up, to keep going and conquer the challenge was remarkable. Of course, the challenge wasn’t just the walk, it was also the life challenges they were dealing with too. In teaching we often use the experience of ‘going on a learning walk’ and that day was the best learning walk I have ever done. It taught me a lot about the resilience and tenacity of ESMS pupils and staff. My pupil companion on the expedition role modelled behaviour that I have tried to live up to during my career at ESMS.
What did you learn from the pandemic?
ESMS is a large organisation and we are used to dealing with change but sometimes, because of our complexity, the pace of change is not as fast as we would like. Our response to the pandemic demonstrated our ability to respond decisively and comprehensively. It was a mammoth organisational exercise to put in place our fantastic provision for Key Worker childcare during the first lockdown. It relied on so many staff volunteering as well as the support of staff who normally work in Early Years and other areas of the School, including our Nursing staff. Our online learning provision for all the children was very strong, especially during the second lockdown when we were able to offer so much live and interactive teaching for all ages and stages. We listened to parents and children, and we were able to turn good provision into outstanding provision. The teamwork and effort across ESMS was superb. I also learned how much we missed the everyday interaction with children, even more outside the classroom than in. We missed the everyday joy of being together – I missed hearing live music performed by our pupils and I missed standing on the touchline and attending drama performances and so many of the joyous things we do every day at ESMS.
What are the changes you have introduced that you are most proud of?
I think we have got better at listening and especially listening to pupils and responding positively to pupil voice. Every organisation needs to evolve and I have made some structural changes which I think the Schools needed – such as introducing HR and Communication departments which in turn has had a positive impact on the culture of the Schools. I think that Outdoor Learning is a major strength of the three Schools and I have tried to make sure this pioneering approach is a priority for the Schools.
What has been your most memorable school event?
It is impossible to chose just one. I really love the House Rock competition which is a great and fun event. My only complaint was that it was too short but maybe my colleagues wouldn’t agree with me on that! For sheer ‘awe’ factor it has to be Nursery Carols Around the Tree.
What will you miss most?
It’s a cliché to say the people but it is true. I will miss being around young people so much.
What are you looking forward to learning next?
I think it will be a case of re-learning and revisiting some of my interests which have been on the back burner for a while. One of the extra-curricular clubs which The Mary Erskine School runs is the Linus Project Quilt Club which makes quilts for children with life-limiting conditions and I did help at the club for a few years when I was based at Ravelston. It’s a fantastic club and I loved working alongside the pupils. My mum taught me to sew and I would love to have time to improve my skills.
What is your final piece of advice for us?
Make gratitude a part of your daily life; every day, reflect on one or two things that happened to you which you are grateful for. Not only will it make you happier, but it will also put you in touch with what really matters.
Thank you Mrs Moule for everything you have done for ESMS over the last 12 years. We know that you will continue to be a close part of the ESMS community and we wish you every success as you prepare to embark on your next adventure.