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January 2021

So the new term got off to a rather strange start as schools opened for one day and then closed again.  The national lock down feels very different this time as staff and students brace themselves for online learning that is now very much a part of our real school experience.

As we emerge from this lock down surely it is time to have a national conversation about what the future of our education system should look like.  Our ‘new normal’ needs to be one that acknowledges that some students actually flourish with online learning.  That some teaching can be more effective with the new skills we have developed.  With schools often so overcrowded and facilities expensive to run, maybe a blended approach to learning could help us to husband our resources better and be more flexible about the spaces we have.  That leads on to the national question about examinations.  Whilst no one is questioning the need for some type of assessment process so that young people can enter the next stage of their lives confident they are undertaking the right training for them, surely we can come up with a system that does not rely so heavily on an end of year final grading system.  If teachers can be trusted during a pandemic to help provide grades for students, why can they not be trusted at any other time?

January is always a bit of a grim month for me.  Bills from Christmas catch up with us, the dark days seem endless and the cold unremitting.  Having said of all that we have a golden opportunity to reach out to support our communities at a time when they need it more than ever.  Each week the Trust makes 1000s of phone calls home and reaches out to families in need.  More than ever we need one another, we need to be hopeful for the future and excited about what the spring might offer us with a new vaccine now being rolled out.  Adversity often refines us and helps us to grow both together and personally.  Let us use this time to reboot, refocus and recharge, ready for when the sun comes out again.

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