Welcome back to the summer term, not as we usually know it, but it is the summer term!  I hope you all managed to find some time to rest, enjoy some sunshine and spend time with your family over the Easter break.  Thank you to all those schools and nursery settings who have been open over the Easter period, caring for the children of critical workers and our vulnerable children, also to many of you who at short notice, were able to accommodate vulnerable children from other school communities, it was much appreciated.

Over the Easter weekend I took a few days off and tried very hard to focus on and enjoy the ‘present’, the ‘here and now’, it wasn’t easy and I’m not sure I succeeded. Speaking with members of my family based on the south east coast, in a flat without a garden and in lock-down/ shielding for 12 weeks at least, due to an in-going health issue, there was an element of guilt that we were able to enjoy walks over the Country Park and views from our windows and garden. However, in their apparent adversity, their resilience, good spirits and optimism was an inspiration.

I suspect that many families feel overwhelmed as they try to ‘keep up’ with what is being expected of them, or, more accurately, what they feel is being expected of them.  There are so many families sharing all of the wonderful activities that their children have enjoyed and milestones that have been achieved; equally, I know that, there will be a similar number who are despairing that they are not ‘keeping up’, or children being left to just do whatever on their own.

There has been an ongoing national and local debate about what constitutes effective online/ home based learning, the anxiety and inequality about the digital divide and what can be provided for children and young people whilst school is functioning in this ‘different way’.  Various Twitter threads and media messaging is either suggesting that we stop worrying about students falling behind, or others reminding us that, first and foremost, families should focus on safeguarding each other and prioritising their health and wellbeing over this period. Equally as educationalists a desire to keep continuity in learning, good habits in reading and revising learned concepts as well as the importance of protecting a nurturing a learning community through virtual communication.

There is a an absolute overabundance of online resources out there for those fortunate enough to have access to the online world; also I have been impressed by the structure, imagination and tenacity our schools have shown to enable students are able to access learning in the initial phase, doing the best you can in a situation that developed very quickly.  Clearly going into a further period of lock down, now means that  we enter the adjustment phase, where schools and pupils will move into a more settled rhythm, a time when leaders can consider how learning has been going, what adjustments can be made and what longer term planning may be required. Camden Learning are drafting a set of guiding principles for home learning, which we will share next week before the Head teachers conference call, where we can influence a balanced view to what home learning can actually achieve for all our students.

I look forward to speaking with you on Tuesday 21st April at 1pm via Skype.

Jon Abbey

Managing Director, Camden Learning


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