Monday 8th March sees the start of the return to school for the majority of pupils in England.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “This is a special week. It will be good to hear the sounds of more young people back in classrooms and school playgrounds again after the latest lockdown.
“The reality is that schools have never actually been closed. Teachers and school leaders have worked tirelessly throughout the lockdown to ensure that pupils can keep learning at home, but we all know that remote education is no substitute for face to face teaching.
“Many children have missed out not just on learning, but also on vital social interactions with friends and teachers, and schools will be supporting their pupils socially and emotionally, not just academically. Such reintegration work will be crucial to ensure a smooth return to school.
“Whilst there is a great deal of excitement about children returning, there is understandable anxiety too. It is therefore essential that the government monitors the early data following the wider re-opening very closely and acts accordingly.
“Equally, the government must do more to ensure that the return to school is a sustainable one. Further improving safety measures in schools would help reduce the chance of future disruption. Similarly, we need to remove unnecessary burdens and distractions such as Ofsted inspections so that teachers and leaders can focus on the job in hand.
“School leaders know that not all good ideas dreamed up in Westminster translate into success. Over the weekend we have seen well-meaning commentators suggest that children should experience a longer day, from breakfast learning until twilight lessons, that holidays should be shortened and PE and the arts substituted for even more Maths and English. We need to make sure our actions over the coming months are about meeting children’s needs not just political satisfaction. A child’s capacity to learn is no greater today than it was before the pandemic, their need for a childhood no less.
“Once teachers - the real experts in the field - have had some time with all the young people in their care, they’ll be able to understand just what each child needs. Based on what they find, schools will put in place every measure available to them. We should reject gimmicks or any quick answers done on the cheap. A properly supported long term commitment to education and children is the only way forward.”
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