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Summer break gives us room to breathe

The holidays are upon most of us and before long we’ll all be given a chance to relax. This year more than ever, we need this period for reflection and preparation.

Term is almost over for each of the collaborative learning communities we report on and everyone can now look forward to a few weeks of well-earned rest. We are also heading to the beaches. I hope those still working in the English and Welsh school systems are able to stay safe until the ringing of the final bell, be it real or virtual.   With Welsh schools having had a four-week taste of the potential situation they face in September and schools in England slightly longer, we realise it will be hard to shut school out of our minds completely.

We have an end-of-term report from one of our regular correspondents, Lesley Stagg, Senior Adviser for Jersey Education Department and an introductory post from Lee Mason-Ellis, CEO of The Pioneer Academy Trust, which consists of south London infant and primary schools and works closely with OLEVI.

Jersey

Lesley reports that in Jersey, with physical restrictions only recently lifted, the tranquil view from her window across the beach on St Ouen’s Bay is in stark contrast to the picture she would expect at the height of the holiday season in July.

However, the island is gradually opening up after a long period of lockdown and isolation.  The tourism website offers this message: “We’re ready to welcome you back to our little island and to share our big spirit with you once again. You will find things are a little different here now, quieter and safer. We’ve put new measures in place that ensure the health and well-being of you, your loved ones, and our local community. So come to Jersey, refresh, revitalise and reconnect with nature. We’re waiting for you.”

Lesley said: “The CYPES (Children, Young People, Education and Skills) team members are mainly still working from home, conducting meetings over Microsoft Teams.  Primary schools are filled once again with children reunited with their friends and teachers.  Those children living in apartments in town, or in homes with no outdoor space, now have space in their schools to run around and play once again. Secondary students have scheduled lessons and tutor times, spread out across the school week to allow for the social distancing.  Many are now awaiting exam results and there is great concern that they may not reach the required levels for their next progression. We are having conversations about publishing data … or not; sharing CAGs … or not yet; encouraging autumn series resits … or not … and all the other academic and moral issues that this strange time has created.”

Lesley added that staff in schools are looking forward to the end of term.  “Never have they deserved the period of extended rest and relaxation most of them hope to experience”, she said. “Yet, we still have schools and teachers worried about supporting their most vulnerable youngsters during the long summer.  Janvrin School is offering a four-week summer programme to assist the younger pupils with reading and creative activities.  Other schools are offering two-week summer camp programmes to support working parents with childcare.  At the department, we are discussing plans for ‘What if?’ scenarios. With the island opening up to visitors, we are anticipating that there may well be a Covid spike later in the year and have to consider what life after the summer vacation may look like.”

England

Focusing on the value of collaborative learning during the lockdown, Lee Mason-Ellis has identified four activities which have assisted his group of schools during this taxing period.

  1. Professional Coaching – enabling strategic planning that is effectively implemented
  2. Professional HT Coaching- enabling a ‘pressure valve’ to ensure mental wellbeing for senior staff
  3. Continued high quality CPD – ensuring continued professional progress for all staff, which will further improve the offer to children.
  4. Continued high quality CPD – ensuring staff do not feel isolated, which in turn vastly improves staff wellbeing.

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We would like to take this opportunity to thank those who have shared their experience of life during lockdown and beyond. We realise that you have been extremely busy, but we appreciate that you have still found the time to provide us with a rich vein of personal experience to reflect upon. Finally, to all, readers take care and stay safe.

George

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