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. Find out some of the key themes and ideas from our two most recent secondary webinars.
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.
What are secondary leaders grappling with?
1. How can we keep hold of what we learn during this extraordinary time to do things differently and better when schools reopen? Schools were united in a desire to rethink some of the things they had always done in light of what they were discovering through online learning and new teaching structures
2. How can we continue to support teachers? One leader pointed out that we have seen teachers behaving very selflessly during this extraordinary time, often prioritising learner needs above their own. We are very lucky to have some inspiring professionals in the system, and should reflect on what we can do to support them – not just their wellbeing but also their professional development.
3. What is this crisis showing us about the skills and qualities that matter most – in young people and in us as educators? As the world has been turned upside down, the things we have valued most have been caring, empathy, practical skills, design technology, entrepreneurship and adaptability.
4. Has this moment really demonstrated the true power of ‘schools at the heart of their communities’? After being widely discussed – including at WE10, our annual conference – we have been inspired by all the stories of schools truly at the heart of their communities: providing food to local groups and families, making face masks and visors, supporting the NHS.
As one leader said, “We are bringing the community into our school’s orbit in a way we never have before. I wish we didn’t have to but I’m glad we’ve been able to”.
+ Passmores Academy have made 150 masks
+ Ely College have made 350 protective visors
+ Schools have also created ‘thank you videos’ for the NHS – supporting the community while engaging students in a current, relevant project rooted in what is happening in the community.
Watch the first two videos, exclusively released for this moment, from our annual conference, sharing stories of schools at the heart of their communities – expert spotlights from Mei Lim and Ruth Ibegbuna.
5. Is it more important now than ever to be part of a network, to have a like-minded peer group to share ideas with and support each other? A number of colleagues reflected on the value of hearing from each other in a safe space during this time.
“I really like these meetings… hearing what others are doing and getting ideas for something we can do.”
“I really enjoy these conversations. I share the ideas I’ve heard back with my team”.
Ideas and solutions shared by the network
1. Create staff teams to own different aspects of current, operational issues and future, strategic planning. Jez Bennett shared that Shenley Brook End were exploring separating leaders at all levels into teams, with some looking at the current operational issues and (a small number) given capacity to think about the future and strategic planning for the ‘reopening phase’.
2. Explore how a school within a school model could help you pilot and embed some aspect of ‘doing things differently’. LiFE MAT were keen to use a school within a school structure to maintain things they were doing differently during this period that they didn’t want to lose in the return to ‘normal’ school life.
3. Think about how you can use social media differently during this extraordinary time. One school said they had started to think about it as a tool much more for sharing between their community (great work, community spirit, positive stories) rather than just a marketing tool.
4. Keep the aspects of normal life going that can help maintain a strong sense of community. Passmores has a well defined house system – so they are continuing to take advantage of this in a virtual world, using things like Whatsapp to support the ongoing house identities.
5. Take advantage of technology to find as many ways to collaborate as a school team and stay connected as possible.
+ One school was doing virtual quizzes.
+ Staff in some schools were creating playlists to share with each other as a way of keeping informal conversations going – what’s on the playlist? Why?
+ Zoom was also being used to make individual online CPD more collaborative, with staff discussing and sharing their ideas on inputs they had heard.
Register your interest in the series to share your ideas with other secondary leaders across the country and find out how they are tackling shared challenges.