So Julia, we’ve come to the end of April, schools going back after the Easter holidays what message do you think schools want to share with parents right now?
It’s a real trial by fire and you wouldn’t believe how extreme the responses are.
We get extreme thank yous and we get extreme complaints and we get parents phoning us in tears and we have to remind ourselves that everybody’s stressed out.
People are anxious and people are afraid and people are overwhelmed and days are long and so all the responses that schools are getting have to be taken with a pinch of salt.
It is a journey for the schools to work out how to provide for their specific parent and pupil bodies so it depends very much on what the homes are and what the tech availability is in a home.
In general you know everybody knows that we don’t want the children on screen all day long and yet school is being provided on screen.
People are finding it difficult to establish new norms and new social boundaries. What is an appropriate way for children to be dressed to show up for a Zoom lesson and, if we’re in the park feeding the ducks, should we rush home for a Zoom lesson.
And are these lessons mandatory ? And are children going to be making progress during this time or are we just revising ?
Are we just babysitting?
Are we just throwing the children busy work to keep them busy and to keep them off their parents’ backs ? And it makes school notice all the things that we provide as well as learning.
We provide socialisation and we provide babysitting.
And that’s a completely legitimate thing.
We create a safe space for children to spend 8 hours of the day and as much as in my utopian ideal, I would be playing in the garden with my children all day long and would have no need for a school provision, it’s actually not true.
We all get bored and we all need to feel stimulated and we need structure and we need stimulation and we need outside input and all that structure and guidance that schools provide as experts but also as another set of hands and another set of eyes.
We say it takes a village to raise a child:
We’re cut off from our village and that’s hard. It’s hard for the children and it’s so interesting how we are creating these other ways to communicate, like how we’re all using daily WhatsApp videos as a new lifeline of:
“Don’t worry, we’re all in the same boat”
Just to make it clear to you, this week has been a nightmare. For parents, for schools and for children.
We’re supposed to have gone back after the holiday. We’re all itching to return to routine and we’re trying to create a routine out of nothing.
Now, those amongst us who are adventurers and who are up for a new challenge
are saying, well the technology has been around for a while and actually we really can do this thing and there are incredible resources out there. All the education resource providers have unlocked their material which is so, so generous:
Collins and Oxford Reading Tree and Hamilton Trust and Twinkl.
BBC Bitesize is creating the most amazing raft of input and hopefully that will go on forever now that they’ve created it.
There’s an organisation called The Oak Academy where 400 lessons are going on daily.
There are all sorts of new things that people are doing to respond and one of the things that I heard in a podcast on the subject recently is that the disruption that the world has experienced during coronavirus is going to accelerate everything.
So a business that was failing, it’s going to fail faster and technology that was developing is going to develop faster and if you think about it in that sense, well, education has been going in a specific questioning direction for the last decade.
People have been saying: school is too industrial and we have to get more creative and more open-ended and more differentiated.
There are amazing resources like the Khan Academy, which just invented the model of flipping the lesson, which means you pre-record the content for the children to watch the content for homework so that when they come into school, they work one to one with the teachers and they benefit from the teachers’ expertise and feedback.
That’s an amazing change because what you’ve done is you’ve taken the content because we live in a content-heavy society, you can find anything you want on Google but what you can’t get is the one to one input.
That one to one input is really what the teachers are offering
Schools are working it out.
It is a journey.
It will be messy.
And if we have a growth mindset and a good attitude and we are gentle and respectful with each other then we will come out at the other end all skilled-up for a whole new world.
But the responses have been extreme.