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.
What were Trust leaders grappling with this week?
1. How do we communicate with stakeholders across the trust completely differently during the Coronavirus crisis? With all the mixed messages and speculation around school provision and return to school dates, trusts know it is a key challenge to present a simple, clear message that cuts through any confusion.
Trust leaders felt parental confidence in national messaging and Covid-19 strategy was low so even in the event of a return to normal, many children would be kept at home anyway. Many trusts had received a huge number of messages from parents anxious about exam grading. Our upcoming deeper learning virtual meetings for secondaries feature expert inputs on teacher-assessed grades.
2. What approaches can trusts take to budget setting for the year ahead when there is so much uncertainty about what operations will look like? Although schools and trusts should have more security than most with income guaranteed by the government, setting a bold and ambitious vision for their trust and schools was proving more difficult because of the lack of clarity about what the year they are budget setting for looks like, what additional resources it might require, and the mixed messages about what the ‘new normal’ looks like.
3. How can we create capacity and space to think strategically and lead change in our organisations? As well as leading on key current issues created by Covid-19, as key system leaders trust leaders want to seize opportunities to do things differently. They are keen to continue to develop their trusts as forward-thinking organisations which means finding space to collaborate and unleashing the talent of their teams. This is a key priority of our WE Trusts offer.
4. What approaches can ensure quality learning in the new, virtual world? All trusts felt comfortable with the practical and logistical issues that had initially emerged. Their priority now was checking and improving the quality and efficacy of their practice.
5. How can we effectively close the gaps that will inevitably emerge during this period? Trusts are beginning to plan how they will lead and manage effective differentiation practice to address the ‘gaps’ issues that will have developed over the period of partial-closure.
6. What role can trusts play in preparing staff for a return to school? Just like students, many staff have struggled with these unsettling times. In the same way that we identify and address gaps for children upon return, we should be prepared to and planning to support the wellbeing of staff.
7. Are schools and trusts likely to face legal challenges after this crisis? There was a great deal of uncertainty for leaders around potential GDPR/FOI challenges, particularly around teacher-assessed grades. They would appreciate clearer, more definitive national guidance.
8. What is the best approach for trusts and schools to take to providers, suppliers and other colleagues (like exam invigilators on zero-hours contracts)? Leaders are keen to behave ethically in this unprecedented situation and support colleagues beyond their immediate team. However guidance and ‘mythbusting’ would go a long way to giving them confidence on this.
9. How can schools’ and trusts’ voices be more involved in the national conversations taking place? All trust leaders agreed that while they had coped, and their schools had done a brilliant job, the uncertainty and lack of involvement in DfE decision making was not sustainable and making life much harder. This was even reflected in the language being used – ‘reopening’, when most schools had never closed. Whole Education will be responding through our Trust Influence Forum.
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.