This week, a considerable amount of our headspace has been taken up with thinking about and planning ahead for the expected government announcement this weekend, detailing how schools will reopen for more pupils. The Guardian reported that, ‘Significant changes in schools are expected, with teachers and unions expecting that Johnson will on Sunday confirm the 1 June start date for schools to reopen; beginning with children aged 10 and 11 in year 6. Other primary year groups are expected to follow shortly after, and then, years 10 and 12 – the first years for GCSE and A-level courses respectively – to also return to secondary schools’. There is a lot of speculation out there in the media, amongst professionals and general public as to how schools might return safely.

As Barry Carpenter wrote in his think piece that I shared last week, it would be naive of any headteacher or school leader to think that the child will pick up the curriculum at exactly the same point at which they left it, on the day their school closed. Too much has happened. Look at what the children and communities are experiencing. None of this follows the usual pattern of a school year with all of the annual cycle of events. It feels like a period of true social disorder. As I said last week, compassionate leadership is crucial at this time.

The slides that I shared this week outlined the multitude of moving parts for school renewal and transition for recovery, which capture the complexity of schools returning with a wider population, than just the children from critical workers and vulnerable children. We are expecting a national framework from the government this weekend, outlining further details, which needs to go beyond guidance. But also to include clear directives relating to public health, managing staff, transport and safeguarding. Once the national framework has been shared, this will need to be interpreted and translated locally for us in Camden, as the next few weeks allow a period of careful planning in readiness for more pupils returning to school.

As we begin to move into the next phase; two thoughts (amongst many) worth pausing to consider are, the pupils’ wellbeing and also those children who are making a transition from one school to another this summer.  On Tuesday, I was part of a group of professionals pulled together by the CEX of the Tavistock, considering how we work together to develop a package of psychological support for young people, families and teachers when a decision is taken to reopen schools.  Camden Learning are part of this innovative project and thinking, which will help to manage the significant challenges that will exist in schools and in our families.  The other piece of thinking is the importance of establishing some joint principles around Year 6 to Year 7 transition; ensuring where possible, some common agreements are determined.  Agreements around correspondence to families, assessment data, pupil information, autumn baseline testing and SEND requirements-watch this space.

Jon Abbey

Managing Director of Camden Learning

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