90 days and counting – What have we learnt?

When the news broke on Wednesday 18th March that schools were closing indefinitely to contain the spread of a virus that was becoming all the more real, many of us didn’t know how to feel. Shock, bewilderment, confusion and a host of other emotions swirled around with no-one knowing what this might mean for the educational sector. How long would this be for? Was this just until after the Easter holidays? Would we see children in classrooms again before September? These were questions that would take weeks to gain any sort of clarity on. 

Three months later many questions remain unanswered. School staff have worked tirelessly since circumstances changed, re-inventing the way they deliver lessons, communicate with colleagues and structure their working lives. The term ‘hero’ often gets banded around, in my mind unjustly when describing school staff. Are school staff ‘heroes’? No. Are they incredible? Absolutely.  

In what have been truly testing times, individuals within the sector have learnt, and learnt fast. There have been high highs and low lows. We could look back at this time as a strange, sad, frustrating time (in many ways it has been) and long for the old times to return. This would be ok. We could return to school as it was, things as they were and feel thankful that we can return to the jobs we had in the way we are used to doing them. That would be ok. Or we could do something different. We could reflect, truly reflect on what we have learnt.

What can we do better? What have we discovered that we can live without? What have we realised that we really need? I’ve often heard that it is easy to get something onto the curriculum but almost impossible to get something off it. Perhaps this is true for schools and system structures. Are we used to doing something a certain way because we always have? Can we be more efficient in the way we use our time? Can we delegate to colleagues better? Do we need physical meetings or have remote meetings proven as effective? How can we improve communication between schools to develop a more consistent approach in the provision of education for children? 

These are questions that I can’t answer but certainly ones that have crossed my mind a lot over the past few weeks. We would never have wished for circumstances to force us to consider such questions. Things have been extremely difficult and continue to be, until when we do not know. For all of the negatives, all of the difficulties, we can learn, we can reflect, we can find the positives. 

So, what have those positives actually been? 

  • Greater connections across the Profession and especially in providing guidance and support for those beginning their own teaching journey.
  • A greater understanding that education doesn’t exist in a vacuum; the clear need for each and every school to focus on the connection with, and support of, the communities they serve.
  • A real understanding for all of us of what really matters in our lives and how we can keep a sense of balance, workload and wellbeing going forward.
  • The central importance of education to the whole of Society as a lever for change and improvement is clearer than ever.
  • We have a voice- we now need to come together to be truly heard. 

By David Keyte (@Mr_K_Teacher)

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