With the COVID-19 vaccination programme progressing at speed and children at long last back in the classroom, it’s time to look back at what we can learn from this experience.
The challenges of remote learning
Many children and their families struggled with remote learning, so it’s a relief for everyone that children can go back to a normal school day. However, a recent report by OFSTED1 found that after the 2020 national lockdown, many older children showed lower stamina in reading and writing, and reduced physical fitness, while younger children had regressed in basic skills.
Focus on the positives
These findings are concerning for all of us involved in education. But, rather than focus purely on what’s been lost, let’s make sure we ‘bank the gains’ for the children’s benefit.
Children may be returning to school having become more involved in home-life, perhaps having built stronger family relationships and becoming more aware of the importance of helping others in their community. They will now have a better understanding of how to interact online too, having had hands-on experience of blended learning and digital resources.
How can we build on these positive life lessons and support families and children to bounce back?
We know that parental engagement is the biggest factor in improving children’s learning, behaviour and achievement in school. Not only this, children want and need moral support2 from their parents and carers with their learning.
We now have an unprecedented opportunity to move forward together – as families have never been more in-tune with their children’s learning and more aware of how they’re performing.
Building back better
To fully support all children in getting back on track, we need to reposition learning as a team effort, with schools, Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs), families, and communities working together, in partnership.
Communication will be key – schools and MATs should work to build an ongoing conversation with parents and carers, making it as easy as possible for them to engage in school life and support their child’s learning. How can we find out what has worked well at home, and should it be continued, if we don’t ask?
“Now is the time to keep communication flowing between homes, schools and communities and facilitate the sharing of ideas, information and content that keeps parents and carers visiting, talking, and engaging, in a way that’s convenient for them”.
Abdul Ghafoor, Head of Engagement, Literacy and Finance Products
Catching-up is a job for everyone
With the Government considering a range of proposals to help children catch up, open lines of communication will be more important than ever. As Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, said, any extensions of schooling “will work well only if they are supported by families”.
If we can seize this opportunity of parents and carers feeling more connected to their child’s learning and work quickly to grow new connective tissue between schools, MATs, families and the community, we will be doing our best to deliver better educational outcomes for children.
It takes a village to raise a child…and support their learning too.
1 COVID-19 series: briefing on schools, November 2020 (publishing.service.gov.uk) https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uplo…
2 Engaging Parents - by Dr Janet Goodall - Learning Foundation | Learning Foundation https://learningfoundation.org.uk/5680-2/
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