2020 Autumn Term 2

The know zone

  • Children first
    There have been innumerable challenges but could 2020 still turn out to be a transformational year in positive ways, wonders ASCL Primary Specialist Tiffnie Harris. More
  • One Day Isle
    ASCL's new Pensions Specialist Jacques Szemalikowski is on a mission to encourage members to review their pensions. More
  • Lifetime Learning Guarantee
    What is the government's new pledge for lifetime learning? ASCL Post-16 and Colleges Specialist Kevin Gilmartin explores the detail behind the headline announcement. More
  • Checks and balances
    ASCL Business Leadership Specialist Hayley Dunn highlights the learning points for academies from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) assurance findings. More
  • Reconnecting
    How have children and young people settled back into school and college life and how are they coping with socialising in an era of social distancing? Here, ASCL members have their say More
  • Back to the future
    Headteacher Chris Hildrew is an advocate on ASCL Council for rural schools and single academies. Here, he takes us back to the future and shares his passion for teaching, Shakespeare, Taylor Swift and how Michael J. Fox inspired him to take up the guitar... and buy a skateboard. More
  • A different blend
    Students, their characters and their experiences are diverse. We shouldn't blame ourselves if they turn out to be something other than we had hoped or intended. More
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How have children and young people settled back into school and college life and how are they coping with socialising in an era of social distancing? Here, ASCL members have their say.


Weathering the storm 

Year group bubbles, while challenging for school leaders, have been good for students because they want to socialise with their year group. We thought that keeping each year group in a zone of the school might be rather a ‘hot house’ but, generally, students have managed well, we think supported by the shorter social times. However, ‘wet lunch’ is not a pleasure, with students all in classrooms, due to lack of large spaces. Never has the weather app on my phone been so often consulted.

Catharine Darnton
Headteacher, Gillotts
School, Oxfordshire

Smiley faces

The students at Crofton School have settled back into school extremely well. They have been kept in year group zones and have the majority of their lessons in specific classrooms within that zone. This has enabled us to continue to deliver the curriculum, and we feel this is crucial for continuity of learning. 

The majority of our teachers are moving about to different rooms. This has been a challenge, but the staff have just been so professional and supportive about this. Some subject teachers have remained in their classrooms to allow more specialised teaching to take place.

We are working really hard to socially distance and where this is more difficult, staff and students wear face coverings. 

I am so proud of all the Crofton community for pulling together at a difficult time for us all. It is just fantastic to be able to teach our students again and see their lovely smiles. 

Gurpall Badesha
Deputy Headteacher, Crofton School, Hampshire

Rebuilding relationships

Students were welcomed back with activities designed to rebuild relationships with staff and students, learn new routines and reflect on lockdown. They discussed their thoughts and feelings about school closure, home learning and returning to school. 

They celebrated the ‘Hidden Treasure’ of lockdown learning – learning in its broadest sense. It was lovely to hear how students developed new skills, became more independent and looked after themselves and others during the period – from bike maintenance to learning about wildlife, from cooking to caring for siblings. 

To conclude the first day, the whole school tuned in to a live presentation by Baasit Siddiqui (known for his appearance on Gogglebox). He described his journey with key messages about taking advantage of opportunities and being prepared to ‘pivot’ and respond to unexpected changes. Pivoting is certainly something students have been expected to do and they have risen to the challenge really well. 

Helen Wakefield
Assistant Principal, Shirebrook Academy, Nottinghamshire


In March 2020, we were inspected and the report said that our children felt “connected with their school family”. Less than two weeks later, ‘lockdown’ was imposed and our school family was disconnected. 

How to reconnect? During ‘lockdown’, as well as the usual communications, we set up ‘Catch up and Chat’ visits to allow all year groups to re-establish friendships. 

On our full return, we worked through ‘Transitional and Recovery Curricula’, where children reconnected with existing staff. This has worked somewhat; children state that “it is great to be back”, but the impact of remaining in a bubble is an issue. Children miss being with other friends and more staff. They miss ‘belonging’. 

The lack of connectedness is a strain on their wellbeing. This feeling of disconnect will continue to impact on our children long into the future. Schools need well-funded, sustainable training to implement ongoing effective mental health support for our children. 

Lilian Taylor-Bell
Headteacher, Leyland St James Church of England (Aided) Primary School, Lancashire