20 May

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This week has been overshadowed by the untimely passing away of our very dear colleague, Tracy Lowe.

Tracy joined us in 2008 and quickly gained promotion into our Human Resources department. In all her time at New Bridge, Tracy was a consummate professional. She was also a wonderful friend to so many people and she would always offer to help.

We have many colleagues at New Bridge who are very much our ‘unsung heroes’. Tracy was one of these. When staff had problems or needed support, Tracy was there; if staff needed a shoulder to cry on, Tracy was there; when staff needed an appointment or holiday, Tracy was there.

One comment that people always made about Tracy was that she was fair. She was always fair and honest. Tracy would sometimes need to have difficult conversations with people but as a result of her impartiality and, more importantly, her skill as a communicator, all staff accepted a decision from Tracy with grace. They knew it would have been considered carefully and it would be fair.

The atmosphere across all our sites on Wednesday, when we eventually heard of Tracy’s passing, was dreadful. Shock and disbelief. Tracy was in school as normal last week – she had never once missed a day through illness.

We are finding it hard as a school community to cope. I can’t begin to imagine what dreadful emotions her family are trying to come to terms with. Tracy had a very close family, she thought the world of her girls and had photos of them in pride of place on her desk. All we can do at this immensely sad time is to be there for them all.

At every level, there is no sense in Tracy’s passing. I always struggle to come to terms with the untimely loss of a member of our New Bridge family and events like this week’s put league tables, Ofsted inspections and education policy into stark perspective. We all do the job we do because we love and care about our community. The individuals in our New Bridge community are unique and all of us – staff, young people, governors, trustees and families – strive to make our small community fairer and more equal. We all have an innate sense of social justice.

Perhaps that’s what we should all strive for, making a difference in our own individual way. Tracy did this. She made a difference; she made a difference to staff, she made a difference to our children and young people. She will be sorely missed.

We always celebrate our successes together – we now need to face this particular challenge together.