Downlands College Captains Michelle Phillips and Ben Hodges, along with the Senior Leadership team, have taken an active lead in supporting fellow students through the pandemic period of lockdown and remote learning.

Michelle is strong believer that any situation can be turned into a positive situation, even a COVID-19 outbreak. “It has definitely been a challenge. The Senior Leadership team could have collapsed but we found new ways to lead, new ways to inspire and new ways of communicating with Downlands students through videos and social media. We knew that we had to stay positive, set an example and demonstrate what it means to be resilient — that’s exactly what we have been able to do,” she said.

“The surprising thing to learn about leadership is that conflict and challenges are not necessarily a bad thing. Communication is vital and such situations can provide opportunities for people, and teams, to share and expand their skills and foster creativity, producing new ideas and innovative solutions to problems.”

Ben has found that the crisis has allowed a greater insight into the impact and connection that Downlands has with its students and staff, past and present. “It is inspiring to witness the community supporting each other in such challenging times. Teachers, staff and past students worked together to support every student and family — so much more happens behind the scenes than anyone would ever realise.”

Michelle is philosophical. “Everything happens for a reason. Without challenges, mistakes, and failures, we cannot learn.”

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