10 things about...re-opening schools this term
Updated: Oct 7
Teachers are in the vanguard of getting children's lives back to normal and helping to dig new foundations when everything has been upended. Listening to teachers, parents and Heads these points seem to be key issues about returning to school.
1. There is no new normal yet. School routines will change and change again. What we do one week might not be what we end up doing next week or next month. Everyone will need to be willing and able to stay flexible and this carries its own stress.
2. Gaps are wider than ever. In lockdown children from the poorest families have been doing over an hour less learning per day than children from better off families (source: Institute for Fiscal Studies). The learning gaps between schools and within schools are likely to be larger than ever and stay large for a while.
3. Special Education needs most. Those with extra leaning needs have been especially disadvantaged and will need most support when they are back in the classroom.
4. Our actions become our habits. Some children will have lost or at least forgotten the valuable routines and habits that keep the school flowing smoothly. Sleep patterns will also take time to re-adjust. Children are bound to stumble.
5. Uneasy lies the Head. Pressure goes with the job but the changes from on high mean Heads have to balance these demands against the impact and frustration it will cause staff and pupils.
6. School is a sanctuary. School will provide the order, stability and progress children need after a time of disorder, instability and, for some, unexpected grief.
7. Family worries will rise before Christmas. Redundancies are being announced in many areas and the furlough scheme is winding down. For many families anxiety will spike in the months ahead as payments stop and the recession bites.
8. Help for new recruits. Over 20,000 newly qualified teachers will be teaching for the first time as lockdown ends. They won’t have been trained for this and most will have missed valuable school experience on their PGCE/PGDE. They will need the help and support of more experienced colleagues.
9. Children may feel swamped. After being in family groups and small bubbles for ages children will be in large and potentially intimidating spaces. This might be particularly tricky if they have moved to a new school this term.
10. Welcome back. Despite all of this, most kids will be really happy to be back!
Peter Hogan has been the Head of schools in the UK and Asia for 20 years. He writes about schools, teaching and learning here at hogan.education and is a qualified Life Coach. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org