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. They are based around trusts sharing what they are doing that others might benefit from, and what they’re challenged by and would like others to feedback on.
In this WE trust leaders support meeting we heard from Robyn Johnstone, CEO of EPG, who focused on recruitment during this challenging time. There was also wide ranging discussion of the opportunities and challenges facing trusts.
Top 10 questions/challenges/themes
1. How can we make live online learning effective (questions were raised about safeguarding and protecting staff wellbeing in the process, and the differences between online learning and emergency remote teaching)?
2. Are there more ways to structure remote learning activities with active elements, so students don’t have days entirely sat in front of a computer?
3. How should we offer appropriate support for, and facilitate and engage, children who are not adequately engaging with remote learning?
4. What’s the best way to structure activities during the Easter holidays so that children who are attending school have an appropriate break?
5. How can we support Trust Leaders and Headteachers to take a more medium-term and strategic view of operating in the current context?
6. How can I be the best version of myself as a leader, and manage my leadership responsibilities with kidness and ethical behaviour, during this time – especially in the situation where you yourself may be isolating?
7. How can trusts manage communications flow into schools to protect them from the myriad of information and to enable them to focus on what is important (e.g. Providing a high-quality whole education in a remote and virtual world)?
8. What are the principles of effective collaboration during this period – at a school, Trust and local level?
9. How do you effectively virtually onboard a school to your trust during this period of remote working?
10. How can we manage a virtual recruitment process during a time of school closures?
Ideas and solutions shared by the network
1. If your school is still open, even with only a few students, why not take the opportunity to make a virtual video tour of your schools for potential candidates? They might not be able to come and look around, but you can still introduce them to the schools and talk about what makes it unique.
2. Explore whether you can run lessons virtually for candidates to teach. Ask some students in a class to volunteer to actually join a virtual lesson.
3. Ironstone was moving some contracted supply teaching time forward from the summer term to September. This will provide capacity to support an initially reduced timetable for NQTs who may need extra support in September because of the current disruption.
4. Take advantage of what could be an extended interview/recruitment process to focus more explicitly on your trust’s culture. Use the extra time to really work out the kind of person you want to recruit and explore creative ways to see if candidates are a good fit in a way you can’t in a normal interview process.
5. Many trusts had set up virtual meetings with their heads. However we particularly liked Anglian Learning’s approach of setting up heads working groups, each leading on different issues (staff wellbeing, workload, student wellbeing) and coming up with best practice guidance for across the whole Trust.
6. Windsor Academies Trust are using their staff site to fully support colleagues across the Trust during remote working. It covers everything: daily updates and messages; teaching and learning bulletins; sharing top tips about lessons learned from each others successes and mistakes; safe working from home, physical exercise; wellbeing; and a staff forum.
7. Explore free tools to stay connected. LEAP Trust was using Basecamp to get all staff collaborating remotely and share ideas – as well as to have some fun and stay in touch more socially.
8. Find out what ideas school and subject teams have to deliver a whole education remotely – Windsor are setting 4 character challenges a week (based on the Jubilee Centre’s character virtues) and exploring other activities to ensure students aren’t in front of a computer all day.
9. LiFE MAT had told its Headteachers to ignore the overwhelming amount of bulletins/mass communications they were receiving, so they could focus on running their schools. To preserve head’s bandwidth, the Trust will collate all the important information they need to see into a single, end of day bulletin.
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.