Back to School…in March
It is not often that we write a back to school blog multiple times in one academic year. This feels like a new year started, however, for many teachers as children went back to schools over the last few weeks. I say the last few weeks as Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland are all on slightly different dates for going back, but schools are reopening fully to all children as we speak.
We know schools were never really closed. Schools during this latest lockdown seemed to be pulled in so many directions. More students, than during lockdown 2020, were in school taking the places for key work and vulnerable children. Then a heightened level of expectations on home learning provision for those children not physically in school. Some children were in school part time and using remote learning part time. Teachers were having to teach during the day in class and then either make resources in the evening to set for home, or somehow teaching while being recorded or watched live at the same time. A couple of years ago we would have laughed at the very idea of asking teachers to do all that. An impossibility which was, unfortunately, made a reality. The good news is that the vaccine rollout and the reduced strain on hospitals seems to have meant it was at least all worthwhile.
But what will we find has been the impact on the children of this time? Optimistic me would like to think the majority of children are going to bounce right back – from the boredom to the academic gaps which may have occurred. We know teachers are used to finding those gaps and bringing children up to speed. For those who have many years of school ahead of them we are likely not to see a major impact on the majority of children in a decade, say. For some individuals the impact will be higher, for any number of reasons, and it is hard to predict who that will be as many have found it is not simply the “disadvantaged” cohort who are necessarily the ones who have gone back the most – so many factors came in to play for so many families that no two households looked the same.
For those who were due to have exams last year and this year, and who do not have the luxury of a few more years at school to make up for any lost learning, we may see some more immediate consequences of the lockdowns. Worth remembering, however, that this is a global issue and there will always be, I think, some empathy for the classes of 2020 and 2021.
It all sounds very gloomy doesn’t it? Certainly lots of the media headlines over the last few months have decried the lost learning and gaps and the need for catch up programmes and support.
However, from a parent side we have seen a much more happy picture. Children engaged in learning at home as their teachers have carefully curated resources and made imaginative use of technology to keep them in touch with their peers and their teacher. And after a week of our children being back in school it feels like they were never off. They are settled and happy and confident again, and running around getting more exercise again. It feels like the gaps won’t be as big as we fear, and the teachers have had a huge part to play in giving them back that normality really quickly.
Only time will tell the true impact. Early reports are interesting but we look forward to seeing further information in the coming years. Perhaps we will have a very different generation coming through but let’s wait and see before we assume it’s all negative!
Let us know how your students are now they are back in school. And also let us know if we can help in any way with keeping your parents connected!