It has been a challenging time for schools, as they begin to reopen. Our school friends we have spoken to have generally been left to design their own systems and procedures. It is safe to say, from our conversations, that there has been dismay in the lack of leadership and advice from central Government.
In the absence of clear leadership from the DoE, school leaders have had to use their own initiative. It has been a balancing act for many, to give parents, staff and pupils confidence, while putting in place measures to ensure safe learning.
At the time of publishing, these efforts had ensured that thousands of pupils were able to attend socially distanced classes. However, the Government’s aim to allow all primary school children to return to school for a month before the summer holidays was still in doubt.
While the lack of guidance is seen as a handicap by many, the situation could also have its benefits. If you flip the narrative, schools are currently free from restraint and can be as creative and innovative as they wish to be in adopting new ideas and ways of working. In such a situation it helps to look at what other countries are doing successfully.
Denmark, for example, has been held up as a standard to which other countries should aspire. The reopening of schools there saw classes split to keep two metres between each child, more lessons taught outside and a rigorous hand-sanitising regime. Pupils were placed in small groups with as little contact with others as possible. The micro-groups arrive at separate times, eat lunch separately, stay in their own zones in the playground and are taught by one teacher. In other places schools have partnered with empty local theatres and museums to utilise spaces. While these types of ideas are not suitable for every school, they give an idea of what is possible.
Below we outline some advice for school leaders and teachers, based on the conversations we’ve had with our education partners. Using some of this information, Laughology has developed a pop-up programme, Mind The Gap – Back to school.
Top tips for back to school:
To support your school community we have shared all our coping skills resources for all year groups free.