When the latest lockdown was announced, together with the closure of schools to all but key workers and vulnerable children, it came with no warning.
Already exhausted heads, senior leaders and teachers were thrown into turmoil with just hours to execute a plan for the following morning. Despite the odds being against them, school communities rose like a phoenix from the ashes. With military precision they switched to remote learning and implemented rotas for the staff that needed to be in school.
‘We know how to make this work’
The lessons learnt from the first lockdown enabled schools to take charge assertively. No school wanted to be in a position where they had to do close their doors to most pupils, but there was a new confidence—a knowledge that ‘we’ve been here before’ and ‘we know how to make this work.’
Supporting each other
One of the greatest positives to take away from the lockdown is the strength of support. Teachers have been supporting teachers, sharing materials and tips to make remote teaching easier. Catering staff have made thousands of food packages to be distributed and the local community have been busy collecting unwanted devices, so they can be given to students who need them.
There has been a herculean effort that’s been going on for almost 12 months now. A resilience and steadfastness to continue providing an education no matter what. A selflessness by teachers putting themselves in the firing line of the virus day after day.
When you step back and look at the achievements over the last year, it is truly awe-inspiring.
What’s different this time around?
The main difference with the current lockdown is the number of children in school. It’s reported that attendance levels are five times higher than before, driven by a change in the key-worker criteria and a lack of devices for children.
This means that many more staff are required to be in school, as well as providing teaching for those learning at home. As a result, we’ve seen the demand for supply cover continuing. Our highly qualified teachers are stepping in and supporting schools when they need it, reducing further disruption to teaching and learning.
One of the findings from the first lockdown was how those children requiring one-to-one support with their education, were adversely affected when this was taken away. There was a determination by schools not to let this happen again. Our specialist cover staff have been called on to bridge gaps in staffing levels, ensuring a continuity of support for those students and helping schools to achieve their goal of a better provision.
Looking to the future
The current date for the full re-opening of schools is set to be ‘no earlier than 8th March.’ It’s safe to say that nobody really knows exactly how or when this will happen, as it may be dependent on local infection rates. What we do know is that education will have been disrupted for almost a year.
However, school leaders are already planning for when they reopen fully and when they do, they will want to keep it that way. We’re already consulting with schools to ensure we can fill any gaps in staffing to keep the wheels turning. We’re able to provide schools with a service where they can book and confirm supply cover in minutes, at any time of the day. This provides schools with the confidence that if a staff member is ill or self-isolating, they’ll be no disruption to the school day for their pupils.
Covid-19 Catch-up Premium
One of the biggest challenges for schools will be making up for lost learning time for their pupils. Schools that had already begun catch-up sessions before the current lockdown, were using the agility of supply teachers to either free up permanent members of staff or use them to run the sessions.
The latest disruption to learning means that these catch-up sessions will be greater in need than before. The £650m of Covid-19 catch-up funding provided by the government whilst welcome, is likely to run out quickly. Schools are wisely analysing how they can maximise the funding and run the sessions as efficiently as possible. Our significantly lower fees mean that we’ve already seen a larger uptake by schools adding us to their portfolio of supply cover provision, as we can help make the funding go further.
There are still many uncertainties ahead for 2021, but the schooling community have proven that they are irrepressible and committed to providing an education, no matter what gets thrown at them. We have been proud and humbled to work alongside schools during this time and we will continue to support schools to help build a brighter future.
If you’d like to discuss how we can support your school, call the team on 01242 388 800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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