Supporting Families
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Saturday, 06 March 2021 19:07

Back to School

May I send my very best wishes to everyone involved with next week’s national return to school, which will start on Monday for some children, but is staggered through the week for others.

To children, most of whom will be looking forward with an unusual eagerness to proper lessons, although with many new rules for their conduct including mask wearing; to those who have struggled to cope with the isolation of lockdown and mental stress; those who are just frightened of returning to such a different environment; those who haven’t coped with homeschooling and those who have lost so much learning over the past year, including the many who may find it difficult to settle back into a school routine.

To teachers and headteachers, who have spent so much time planning and trying to anticipate the many challenges they will face working to new health and safety regulations with children who have lost the routine of regular schooling and lessons; together with devising remedial programmes for children who have endured a variety of experiences over the past year, including simultaneously maintaining homeschooling for some unable to return to school; working with the vagueness of the shifting assessment regime, including GCSE and A-Level, knowing they will be unfairly blamed by many if it doesn’t all work smoothly. Many of these staff will also have families affected in different ways by coronavirus and fearful of contracting and spreading it. 

To support staff and those teachers who may well be faced with the immensely complex and time-consuming coronavirus testing regime required to be carried out on a regular basis, along with the challenges of families who don’t wish their children to be tested or to wear masks, amongst other duties additional to their normal routine; including for those charged with policing the school gates to keep parents from gathering. 

To parents, many of whom have managed their children full time for the past two months, some in very difficult circumstances, including supporting them through mental health issues. Those who have had to cope with their own pressures and anxieties including loss of livelihood or family members, and still be supportive of their children; and those who fear for the consequences of sending their children to school, such as bringing coronavirus back into homes where there may be vulnerable people living.   

To all those involved with school transport, to and from school, many of whom who met serious problems managing bubbles, social distancing and behavioural issues last time around, but who appear to have been forgotten on this occasion until problems surface. See my August article on school transport and coronavirus here.  

To the government, which has rightly made a policy decision to give school re-opening such a high priority, but will pay a price if it backfires.

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I have been asked my opinion of it all on several occasions but, as a retired headteacher looking back on normal times, feel completely unable and unqualified to offer a view on the uniquely complex challenges awaiting all involved in schools next week.

I am aware that many others in different walks of life face equal but different challenges; however, this is a website dedicated to looking at matters relating to schools. 

 Finally. The delivery of a good education for the current generation of school children is critical to the life chances of so many. Please do not underestimate the responsiblity felt by the teaching profession in delivering this. What they do is vital for the health and future prosperity of the nation, and I wish everyone concerned in education all the very best, especially over the next few weeks as the inevitable unexpected problems rear their heads and are sorted out. 

Last modified on Sunday, 07 March 2021 05:24

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