This past year has allowed for much debate about the role of schools and the contribution they make to society. It is clear that our buildings provide a range of services, of which education is a key element, but not our only function. Our schools are often the ‘hub’ of the community. We signpost families to other services and provide support which is not just educational but is about the whole child as a member of a family and wider community. I know that as families you value this support and appreciate that staff often go beyond your expectations in terms of the service we provide.
Currently, we are doing all we can to cater for your needs during this period of lockdown. We have a number of children accessing learning on-site, but the majority are engaged in remote learning. I recognise that this is an additional pressure on parents. I know that for many of you, home schooling is a juggle and a struggle- you have my sympathy. It is certainly not our preferred way of delivering education and we know that children usually perform less-well at home than they would in a classroom situation. We are here to help if we can and I hope we can work in partnership to support and empower you with this. My advice would be to ensure that you create and stick to a timetable for working at home which works with your family circumstances. We know that children need structure and routine. If they know what is expected and it is consistent, it may lead to challenges initially but will pay off in the long-term.
We heard from the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, on Wednesday, that Primary testing would not take place this Summer. I know many children will be disappointed by this; they like working towards a goal. End of key stage tests, particularly in Year 6, traditionally form part of the transition to secondary school.
Whilst children may not sit formal externally moderated tests, we will need to make assessments of the children when they return to school to inform their next steps. As such, we will continue to maintain high expectations in terms of learning. Our staff will work with students, to help them to make improvements and achieve their targets in terms of their personal learning goals and age-expected outcomes.
The purpose of learning, in my view, should not be solely based on examination outcomes. Learning is a lifelong journey and it is important for individual wellbeing. Learning, in whatever form it takes, provides the learner with purpose, confidence and additional life skills. As schools, we provide learning opportunities in curriculum subjects, but the children also learn social and life skills which are an essential component of living within a society. Anyone who has ever taught a child to ride a bike without stabilisers, will know the sheer joy that comes with learning a new skill. The feeling of accomplishment that comes when one can do something independently for oneself, is worth more than the ease of having something done for you. Learning generates confidence and self-worth, learners are justifiably proud.
During this period of lockdown, I hope that families will continue to support their children with their learning. I am looking forward to hearing about the new skills and knowledge that children have developed at home, some of which will be part of remote learning but also that which has been stimulated by parental or the child’s own independent interests.
Keep learning and keep safe,