Although the long-term effects of Covid are yet to be seen, there are some areas which the pandemic has impacted more positively. But what are some of the ‘Covid keeps’ for schools? Michael Tidd, Headteacher at East Preston Junior School (EPJS), shares some thoughts on a few of the aspects which Covid has changed for the better.
There’s barely a day goes by when I don’t curse the pandemic and its impact on schools, whether it’s the effect on staffing, the restrictions on our more exciting activities, or simply the monotony of yet another day focused on whether someone’s cough has become ‘continuous’.
It’s certainly true to say, though, that we’ve learned plenty from it, and lots has changed about how we do things that might have seemed quite radical just two years ago. When I arrived at EPJS back in September 2019, we talked about how we could keep parents evenings running to time by bringing everyone together in the hall rather than spread across the school; who’d have guessed that an even better solution was at the opposite extreme: the introduction of online parents evenings, with automated timings built in, has meant that no parent is left waiting for their allotted slot, even if it is the last one of the evening.
Of course, some elements have been rather more mixed blessings. I don’t think there are many teachers keen to return to the challenges of teaching classes remotely via video and online activities. While it’s certainly added to our skillset, it’s a poor substitute for having the children there in the classroom. But it has opened up other opportunities that might previously have been out of reach. Over the last year our children have had interactive sessions with authors and even expert input from an archaeologist for our Year 6 pupils studying the Maya. As a result it seems that virtual options for this type of activity will be a worthwhile consideration as part of our curriculum planning for the future.
Hopefully as things settle back to normality, we’ll be able to make the most of both sorts of opportunities. The same will be true, no doubt, of our collaboration across the Trust. The ubiquity of Google Meet across schools has also meant that it’s as easy to have a video call with a colleague – or even a few – to tackle a challenge which might previously have depended on several emails, a block of time away from school for meetings or not been an option at all!
But I must confess, I’m also looking forward to the return of face-to-face meetings, if only as an excuse to bring biscuits.
Michael Tidd, Headteacher
East Preston Junior School