This is not me writing about how I haven't been able to see a relative who has really needed me, or whom I have really needed over this period. I have read so many examples of these, and the accompanying contempt for Cummings and his 'take' on #stayathome that everyone else has been following so dutifully. People's personal accounts are heartbreaking.
Luckily, my father's care home went into lock down before they were advised by the government and have kept him and their residents safe by following their own rules. I have been lucky. And I have my three children and my husband with me, and a few acres of roaming ground for my now quite feral daughters, a well-stocked freezer AND a handful of laptops. As I say, I have been lucky.
Rather, this is me writing about rules. In our Trust (14 primary schools) we set our own rule that stated that staff who had school-aged children should remain at home, thereby not creating another layer of key worker children to add to the numbers coming into school. It seemed to us that if staff had to bring their children in, then this would be a self-perpetuating cycle of adding to risk rather than reducing it. We have managed to keep key worker provision open (some serving up to four schools) and it has been staffed by a very small group of staff to whom I am so grateful.
This rule - the 'if you have children don't add to the key worker provision and stay at home' rule - is a rule that I have broken. I am currently an interim headteacher at a school which has been a key worker hub serving four schools. I am also the Director of Strategy and have been handling a lot of the risk management and coordination of our response during this period - from communications to systems of support for remote learning, from catering contracts to EHCP protocols. My husband is also a fruit farmer (hence the acres) and nature does not wait!
Let me tell you how this rule-breaking went.
I did not need to go to special leadership & integrity school to know that when one is the rule maker one does not get to be a heedless rule breaker. In fact, I am still uncertain as to whether we did the right thing. At the very least we followed a process, recorded it and ensured absolute transparency. Ultimately, if anyone elsewhere in the Trust had raised this as an issue (Why is she allowed when I'm not?) then we were ready to talk the decision through. We were even ready to back down if others had felt strongly about it.
So if I had a rule about breaking rules, I think it would be this: be open, honest, transparent, and procedural. Furthermore, have humility not arrogance at the ready. I would advise against batting away criticism without explanation, against doing it without sharing the reasoning, and advise against not being ready with clear and honest records. Definitely don't break rules in the dark, hope that no one finds out and then claim that no rules were broken in the aftermath.
But then I'm not an adviser. Who am I to advise?