I have been a teacher for 31 years, a head teacher for 16 years and, at the age of 55, this much I know about planning for “catch up” when our students return in September.
There is so much catastrophising about our students’ return to school in September, I worry that the prophets of doom are fast becoming the biggest threat to our students’ wellbeing. If we tell students they have been irrevocably damaged by their lockdown absence, they will feel, most probably, irrevocably damaged; conversely, tell them that it is great to have them back and we can make up any lost ground, I bet they will crack on largely unaffected.
And, I have to say, having spoken to our Year 10 and Year 12 students these past couple of weeks, all they want to do is get on with their studies, in school.
In my humble opinion, we should stop prophesising about “a lost generation”, as though students have been completing no school work during lockdown. Instead, the vast majority of our country’s students have been learning whilst they have not been in school. Moreover, it is worth remembering that when they do return in September, students will not have been in school for 3.5% of the total number of school days between Year 1 and Year 11.
Rant over. Our plan for our returning students is very simple. We focus first upon Attendance, because if the students are not in school, they cannot benefit from live teaching. Then we ensure all elements of the Curriculum (content-pedagogy-assessment) have been reviewed ready for classroom conditions in September; and finally, we find pockets of Time for specific cohorts of students to cover essential content they have missed. Attendance-Curriculum-Time.
Here are the bare bones of our ACT plan. It is very simple. It is the product of essentialist thinking. Let us implement one or two things really well for the return of our students in September, rather than overwhelm them with an extraordinary range of half-baked interventions. Life for them recently has been extraordinary enough…