All change for schools

Schools will be reopening in September. Cue more emails from schools who know have to rejig all their plans and re-engage with parents to explain what they are doing.

Students taking GCSE Exams


So it’s all change in schools and they will be reopening in September with class or year bubbles. This may come as a relief for some parents and for many it will bring more questions, but it all sounds like a bit of a nightmare for schools. We got an email from one of the secondary schools on Friday. It listed all the things they had to contend with with the bubble strategy.

This is a small digest of the issues and bear in mind this is a small school which is launching its first year of sixth form at the same time [lucky them]:

– All staff are due in at all times but they cannot mix
– There will be whole year group “bubbles” that cannot mix
– Teachers will be travelling to students’ classrooms to teach to avoid mixing
– Students remain static in one room as much possible, only moving for practical lessons
– PE, Drama, Food, DT and Art are working out how they will deliver their lessons with 1m distance, whilst adhering to Health and Safety regulations
– Play areas will be zoned
– Students will have a break but it will be in their classrooms
– There will be staggered starts and ends to days for all year groups
– Students will be housed in five areas in the school in case they arrive early – so they don’t mix

– There will be five lunchtimes of 25 minutes. Students will have zones and will not mix
– There will be five zones for students to go after they have eaten
– Parents will not be allowed to just come into school – they will have to make an appointment and will only come as far as a room off reception.
– There will be no assemblies – these will be recorded.

I have absolutely no idea how they are going to teach different GCSE lessons without people moving classroom. Daughter three takes Spanish, for instance, and many of her classmates don’t take it. Will they all be forced to take Spanish or will Spanish be sectioned off at the back of the classroom? Who knows?

The head teacher has said he doesn’t want to narrow the curriculum, which is allowed under the guidance, and only focus on, say, English, maths and science for the first terms. Daughter three wants to go to a language-specialist sixth form so that’s a bit of a relief. It sounds a bit like an organisational nightmare, and that’s without mention of what on Earth they are going to do about people needing the toilet.

The thing that really impressed me about daughter two’s school is the honesty in the communication and the clarity of the message – that the safety and well being of children and staff are at the heart of all of this. The head teacher’s email was all about problem solving, getting everyone on board and appreciating the efforts of all involved, from staff to students to parents.

One major problem in all of this is persuading parents, particularly those whose children have health issues or who themselves are shielding, that it is safe when clearly there is an element of risk which are greater or lesser depending on people’s personal circumstances. The threat of fines is perhaps not the best way of allaying fears and neither are articles by people who send their children to private school where numbers are much lower and resources much higher.

The aim in all of this is to create some kind of system that works, given the known risks and the uncertain terrain ahead. That requires people coming together and recognising the nature and scale of the problem, the known and unknown risks and inspiring them to move forwards. In short, it requires leadership, taking responsibility when things go wrong rather than blaming others and developing two-way relationships built on trust.

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