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. Discover our WE ‘Summer Curriculum’ for Trusts, Primaries and Secondaries.
This week Maxine Lowe, Executive Headteacher of Brooklands Farm, Milton Keynes shared her plans for their recovery curriculum (full presentation here for WE members). Discover the ideas she shared.
1. The importance of the school’s ethos. Leaders were focused on re-sharing, connecting to and demonstrating their schools vision and values throughout this period, and especially as more children return to school. Maxine gave the example of how their school vales of Open, Grow and Believe are framing the messages to parents: ‘We are opening school again, we will grow slowly over time as it is safe, and we believe this is the right thing to do for our community’.
2. Positive approach – it is vitally important to develop a ‘can do’ attitude in your team. It is easy to become ‘bogged down’ with negativity during this challenging period, especially around the government announcement for more primary aged pupils to return to school from 1 June. Maxine urged teams to collaborate in order to find solutions to issues as they arise and ensure that children experience a purposeful, engaging and fun return to school.
3. Ensure a consistency of approach and language across the whole staff, linked to the vision and values of the school. This means children will connect to the ethos of the school rather than any one individual teacher or classroom – crucial given the likely disruption from changing staff and space availability.
4. Reframe staff and children’s mindsets about coming back to normal and what the new normal is. Setting expectations helps people manage periods of turbulent change. This means bringing staff and pupils along with you – and Maxine emphasised the importance of trying to shift back to a more deliberative, consultative style of leadership, rather than the more directive approach that many used to respond immediately to the crisis.
5. Planning for a recovery curriculum. At Brooklands Farm they are including a focus on the 5 ‘losses’ children may have experienced (routine, structure, friendship, opportunity and freedom) and designing their recovery curriculum to respond to all 5 to improve the mental health of the children. Maxine recommended the Bereavement UK resource ‘Elephants Tea Party’.
6. Use ‘anchors’ to support the transition of pupils back into schools. From a school perspective the ‘anchor’ will be the ethos. For children their anchor may be a photograph, picture or a (washable!) object that they bring from home.
7. Empower teachers and children with ‘bubbles’. The children at Brooklands Farm have been organised into ‘bubbles’, and this has been explained to the children and parents through written and video communication. Each teacher and their ‘bubble’ of children will be together responsible for co-constructing the daily routines and expectations for their group.
8. Continue to have an early, in school transition. At Brooklands Farm the children transition into their next year group in the last 3 weeks of term. For Y6 this year this will continue to happen: children will start to call their teacher ‘Sir/’Miss’, follow the behaviour system of their new school, and will learn about RSE, Online Safety, protective behaviours, etc.It is hoped that they will receive remote lessons and virtual tours of their new schools, so in September they are already relatively comfortable and prepared.
9. Communicate with stakeholders using multiple approaches, tailored to your community’s needs. Leaders should ask the question ‘how do we want people to feel when they re-enter the building’. This is particularly useful for schools with a significant number of families who do not have English as a first language. As well as creating an inviting and safe physical space, Brooklands Farm are sharing video and photo stories to demonstrate how school will look and operate to address parent and pupil concerns.
10. Talk to parents and teachers, find out how they’re feeling and collect accurate information so you can make informed plans. Parents at Brooklands farm were given a deadline to confirm whether their child would be returning from 1 June to enable school leaders to plan staffing and accommodation. They will be asked again each week about the following week, so they are able to change their mind as circumstances change and give the school time to prepare appropriately. The school is also using surveys and video calls to get parent and student voice.