During this challenging time, it is more important than ever to be part of a network; to have the space to talk to colleagues, hear what they are doing and share ideas. Our WE virtual meetings are designed to support you during this challenging time. They are an opportunity to learn with and from colleagues across the country during this fast-moving situation.
Les Hall shared how Mounts Bay Academy in Penzance, part of the LEAP trust, have designed their recovery curriculum to flexibly and safely support learners as they begin to have more open schools next academic year – whenever and however that occurs.
Mounts Bay Academy has benefited from a previous focus on student agency and independence. The school had also focused time on use of technology pre-lockdown, so saw this as an opportunity to push that practice much further forward. They have seen high engagement with online learning – 92% engaging well.
Their recovery curriculum has been developed around the principle of focusing on the learners, rather than the learning – so includes strong wellbeing and metacognitive elements. Their approach to returning to school – whether in September, October or beyond is in the following stages…
Universal recovery curriculum:Mounts Bay New Paradigm
The school believes the approach below will be sufficient for about 70% of students.
Stage 1: Remote learning continues. Given the school’s success with remote learning, Year 10 will not be returning (physically) school in June and instead Mounts Bay will continue to focus on improving online learning.
Instead of all Year 10s (many of whom are thriving) they will prioritise inviting back students not engaging with online learning first – the students they are most concerned about. They will look to identify and tackle the issues preventing this 8% engaging remotely (e.g. providing more technology)
Stage 2: Staged return, social connections gradually be reintroduced. Each year group will be in for one day a week. Tutor groups will be split into three to create groups of ten with their own indoor and outdoor space and member of staff, as well as their own entrances and exits to the building. This time is not for subject specific learning (that’s the other four days a week) but redeveloping relationships and briefing students on learning
Stage 3: Focus on relationships. Continuing specific practice and approaches to develop relationships.
Stage 4: Working with parents and the community to listen to their concerns and needs, and communicate with them about the school’s plans
Stage 5: Curriculum. Focus on supporting students who are stressed about having missed learning. The school plans to take over empty community spaces across town, and host optional, opt-in masterclasses. These will be delivered by specialists and socially distanced.
Stage 6: Slowing down and giving space. Les reflected that after such a period of disruption, school couldn’t go back to its fast-paced intensity. The school would be deliberately slowing down, with the recovery curriculum giving students lots of time to think and coaching support.
Stage 7: Emphasising metacognition. In particular there will be lots of space and structure to think about how students are learning, and what they have learned during the past few months.
Additional support in the Mounts Bay recovery curriculum
The school is expecting about 30% of students to need even more personalised support than this, and have different tiers of additional support through a further personalised recovery curriculum.
For students that need it there will be a range of counselling and educational psychologist support available – the school is expecting to need the capacity to support students through post traumatic stress and bereavement.
The school is expecting a greater number of students receiving pupil premium as they return to school, due to changing family circumstances, and these students to be from a range of backgrounds.
Students in need of less intense support will receive school based support like small group work, regular check ins, social stories, outdoor learning and re-skilling.
Other themes that leaders were discussing:
+ How can we maintain school identity during a gradual return? One leader suggested that school uniforms might actually be more important than ever in a world where students are in school for only one day a week.
+ The need for a cross-trust strategy on edutech and online learning – this crisis has highlighted that this should be a priority going forward to futureproof trusts.
+ Ensuring equity during the shift in focus away from online learning– many had concerns that as students in certain year groups returned to school that would create a disproportionate amount of work or focus on those students – whereas they were keen to focus on the students who were most vulnerable or struggling with online learning.
+ Many students have found online learning very intense. They contrasted an hour’s focused work at a computer with the rhythm of lessons in school, which actually have a number of interruptions or time lost for arrival, unpacking….
+ Take education into the community: if some of your community cannot access online learning, can you take the learning to them – hiring community spaces and delivering subject masterclasses?
+ Focus on building and maintaining staff morale: some leaders had started to see staff morale fall as the new normal set in.
+ Opportunity to rethink budgets – if we assume that some version of the current way of working will carry on for next year, perhaps shifting between different levels of open-ness, does this give an opportunity to rethink some costs? Will some subject department budgets need much less money that could be invested into specialist online teachers, as one trust was exploring?
+ Rethinking how teams are organised: One trust was exploring setting up ‘scrum’ teams to work on a problem together in springs – short, time limited periods to focus on something and achieve it, before moving on to the next. With new and existing siloes developing and exacerbated by remote working, exploring these alternative ways of organising people could lead to more effective working.
+ Invest in supporting anywhere, anytime professional learning. We can role model how we want students to work in this new world by supporting our staff to take part in anywhere anytime professional learning, investing in training they can access in their own time with follow up support available.
How are you approaching your recovery curriculum? What principles are at the heart of your plans to bring more students back to school? Tell us on Twitter: #wholeeducation @wholeeducation.
Register your interest in the series to share your ideas with other trust leaders across the country and find out how they are tackling shared challenges. You can register for virtual primary meetings here and secondary meetings here.