Two heads of independent schools in England have told IE that pupils will continue to learn in school before the Christmas break instead of switching to remote learning
“I can appreciate why some schools have made the decision to switch to remote learning for the last few days of term, but we are keen to do as much face-to-face provision as we can before the Christmas break,” said Helen Jeys, headmistress of Manchester High School for Girls.
“This situation has taught me that there is no perfect solution and schools have to make the decision that is right for them.”
Whether schools should switch to remote learning before the end of term in order to reduce the transmission of Covid-19 has been a recent topic of discussion.
All secondary schools in Wales were told by the Welsh Government to move to online learning from Monday (14 December), while primary and special schools were encouraged to stay open.
In England, the London borough of Greenwich have asked all schools to move to online learning from Tuesday (15 December) amid rising cases. However, the government told the council it must keep schools open or face legal action.
The headteacher of Arnold Lodge, an independent school in Leamington Spa, also said his pupils will continue to learn in school.
“As much as possible, children are best learning within their school and having the chance to interact with their teachers, albeit socially distanced. For children who are forced to isolate, we are dialling them in live to their classroom to continue their learning,” said David Preston.
Time to recharge
Preston said it is “crucial” that school staff have time off over Christmas “to recharge”.
He continued: “This has been a hugely successful term at ALS and the quality of teaching and learning has been outstanding, particularly given the circumstances. This doesn’t happen by accident and I know every member of our staff in our operations, junior school and senior school teams have gone above and beyond to support the children.
“As it’s unlikely that there will be much change for the spring term, we’ll need everyone (and that includes colleagues on the leadership team) to feel refreshed and ready to provide the same high standard next term.”
Jeys said staff wellbeing is “incredibly important” and that she will encourage staff to have a complete break this Christmas.
“My staff have worked incredibly hard this term and I cannot thank them enough for everything that they have done to sustain an outstanding education for our girls over the last term,” said Jeys. “Therefore, I am going to ask them to put their out of office signature on their email and try to get a complete break so that they can start next term, refreshed and ready.”
She explained that the senior team are on a rota for potential track and tracing before Christmas.
I am going to ask them to put their out of office signature on their email and try to get a complete break so that they can start next term, refreshed and ready – Helen Jeys, Manchester High School for Girls
Jeys added: “I have learned so much this year and have a renewed respect (if I ever needed it) for the teaching profession and for our fantastic pupils who have experienced so much this year. What I am looking forward to is reflecting on how much we have all learned and what we can take forwards to make the future even brighter.”
Preston agreed that reflection is needed to see what can be learned for the future. “Covid-19 has forced us to work differently and, in doing so, there will be aspects where it has forced us to work smarter and to look hard at those things we do in school because ‘we’ve always done it’,” he said.
“Equally, there are things we might have taken for granted that we really must cherish more (for me, this is the whole staff briefing on a Friday – having the whole team together for a short time is something I really do miss).
“As the vaccine begins to allow resumption of something resembling service as usual, we have to ensure that we learn lessons from this time to make us even better in the future.”
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