2021 Spring Term 2

The know zone

  • Effective transition
    The impact of the pandemic on lost learning for primary school pupils moving up to secondary school is a growing concern. Never has the focus on high-quality collaboration and early transition planning been so important, says ASCL Specialist Tiffnie Harris. More
  • Getting our priorities right
    ASCL Specialist Margaret Mulholland believes that Covid-19 has highlighted the stark reality of disadvantage and segregation in our education system. Now, she says, it's time to get our priorities right. More
  • Brave new world?
    As the government launches its consultation on changing the way our students apply to university, ASCL Specialist Kevin Gilmartin examines the key proposals. More
  • Defining your benefits
    ASCL Specialist Jacques Szemalikowski highlights the benefits of belonging in the Teachers' Pension Scheme. More
  • Remote teaching
    We've all had to change the way we work during this crisis, especially during lockdown. Here, ASCL members share their experience of remote teaching and working throughout the pandemic... More
  • Candid camera
    Principal Hannah Knowles says being a member of ASCL Council is a privilege and it has widened her vision of education. Here she shares her passion for Council, teaching and leading, and her dislike of... 101 Dalmatians. More
  • A time for peas
    Home schooling plus online meetings and lessons while minding three youngsters... not to mention the head injuries, disastrous baking and 'comfort breaks'. Alex Wallace opens up his lockdown diary from early last year. More
  • Remote audit
    The impact of Covid-19 has brought many challenges for academies over the last ten months, but one rarely mentioned is that faced by finance and management teams as they undertake the annual external audit remotely, says Andy Jones from Cooper Parry. More
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We’ve all had to change the way we work during this crisis, especially during lockdown. Here, ASCL members share their experience of remote teaching and working throughout the pandemic...

Remote teaching

Opening up new doors

For me, remote learning is like Marmite: students either love it or do not want anything to do with it. For some students, working from home has really helped reduced their anxiety levels, especially if they were living with vulnerable/ shielding relatives. Many have appreciated being able to have more control over organising their days and managing their own learning time. Moving previously in-house events, like parents’ evenings, online, has also given us the chance to engage with some of our ‘hard to reach parents’ who might have found coming into school daunting or logistically impossible; the online format has literally opened up previously closed doors.

The challenge as we move forward is to think how we can retain these benefits that remote learning has provided.

Lesley Dale
Assistant Headteacher, Director of Teaching School, Humanities Teacher, Denbigh School, Milton Keynes

Caring and connecting

Working remotely with about 1,700 students has meant we have prioritised their wellbeing even more than usual. Losing their routine and day-to-day contact with staff who care has been hard, despite trying to follow our timetable on Google Classroom. We therefore talk about wellbeing constantly, normalising and validating all that they’re feeling. The focus on training when we returned to school in September and again during lockdown has been on supporting student, and staff, wellbeing. Children check in weekly with tutors and issues are followed up by pastoral staff. We regularly share strategies and resources, we encourage constant dialogue with pastoral and subject staff, we support parents with their wellbeing as well as signposting to sources of help and we give overtime for specific wellbeing activities.

This lockdown, we have also written to every child and have sent out over 60 Wellbeing Support Packs that children from Year 7 to Year 13 have loved to receive. And we call every child on their birthday – not sure who this means more to, the child or their parents, but it is one of the many little things we do to keep children feeling cared for and connected.

Charlotte Berry
Deputy Headteacher, Compass Education Trust Ltd, Essex

Life really can turn on a sixpence!

In the space of under twelve months, the greatest revolution in education has played out before our eyes, but few of us have had the chance yet to absorb the full impact of what is happening. Teachers are used to standing on the shifting sands – generally, it represents progress and while the current situation is rightly giving rise to serious concerns, not all is doom-laden.

The speed of change is like nothing we have ever seen before – some of it feels frustrating and ill-conceived – yet still the response of the profession is phenomenal. The learning curve for most teachers is huge. The efforts of most parents are Herculean, and children are generally doing their best to engage. There is no silver bullet to guarantee a smooth passage through this time but open and honest communication with all stakeholders is helping us to maintain morale and refine what we are doing. We survey staff, students and parents regularly: we ask – we listen – we respond… and, for the most part, this is appreciated. Perhaps for now, this is good enough.

Ann Grimstone
Assistant Head, Castle Manor Academy, Haverhill, Suffolk

Leading the way

I have been incredibly impressed and moved by the willingness of our staff to adapt to whatever has been thrown at the education sector over the last year – remote learning, blended learning, no exams, centre-assessed grades (CAGs), Ofqual consultations, mass testing, staggered return, no return, primary pupils in, no primary pupils in, key worker provision (and through the holidays), nurseries constant. In a setting that has nursery to sixth form provision, there has been a constant amending of procedures and policies for the different areas.

Throughout it all, staff have ploughed on, always having at the heart of everything they do the wellbeing and progress of the young people in their care, whatever age they work with. They have communicated with and been supported by the parent body and the whole community has come together and really understood one another. I feel exceptionally proud that schools have led the way through a lot of this pandemic, and with professional resilience, they have continued to provide a future for young people.

Angela Chapman
Vice-Principal, St Gabriel’s, Newbury