Nigel Atwood joins national campaign to raise issues posed by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak
Nigel Attwood, Headteacher of Bellfield Junior School has joined the ‘WorthLess?’ campaign requesting urgent help for schools with several major issues. Headteachers from across 80 local authorities and London Boroughs have joined together to write to their local MPs to raise their concerns around the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The campaign aims to draw attention to a number of key issues that schools are facing and have a number of aims.
- Contingency plans for GCSE and A-Levels to be urgently published. They must meaningfully take account of the significant ‘lost learning time’ for students, the wider mental health and other pressures they face during the time of a pandemic and the widespread variations in school attendance seen across the country.
- The costs of Covid-19 related expenditure should be fully reimbursed with a clear, transparent and standardised mechanism for making such claims.
- Staff working in schools should be prioritised for Covid-19 testing.
- Where staffing levels are insufficient to allow effective teaching or safety standards to be met, headteachers should be given the discretion to introduce a rota system of opening for students in secondary schools (and in extremis, primary schools) if all other options have been exhausted.
Nigel Attwood, head teacher at Bellfield Junior School Birmingham, said, “At some point, we hope that the ministers sit down and talk things through with us in order to fully grasp the issues and then work on short term and longer plans to rebuild the education system for our children and for the future of the country.”
Tadpoles Nursery School launch campaign to ‘Light Up Lockdown’
Claire Dimpfl, Headteacher of Tadpoles Nursery School has started an initiative called ‘Light Up Lockdown’. After a positive start to the September term the nursery had a few Covid scares, needing a small number of teachers to quarantine. With the announcement of a second English lockdown they decided to boost the morale of the school and give the early years Children an activity that would provide an uplifting message.
Francesca, Tadpoles registrar, says:
'Light Up Lockdown', came out of an idea that we need to bring our country and the world back together. This pandemic, along with the dying of the planet is affecting everyone and with so much disparity, never ending woes and darkness, we need to see the light being brought back in.
We need to be reminded that we are not alone in this, that if we work together we can make things better for the children of our nation and [hopefully] of the world.
We needed to find something that could reach everyone, rich, poor, young and old - a symbol to lift the spirits of those most in need at a time when we are all in need. Our children are the greatest symbol of hope and they bring a lightness to the world, if anything is to make a difference, it must start with the children...Children can always see the light and the fun and so "Light Up Lockdown' was born.
We want to reach as many as possible. We want to see lights in every window, the little houses for the children standing with their [battery] flame, reminding all who pass that they are not alone and someone is thinking of them. We want to see every street lit with flickering lights, guiding our exhausted workers home, telling them we are thanking them for keeping the nation running. We want the children to look out of their windows and see the light coming through the darkness and know that there is hope!
As a further initiative Tadpoles are linking the ‘Light Up Lockdown’ campaign with the Makimei Children's Home in Kenya. Tadpoles have contacted over 400 schools and nurseries in London and around the country and hope the initiative will bring ‘a little light into the dark evening’.
Sam Strickland of The Duston School praises the actions of headteachers throughout the Covid-19 outbreak
Strickland is the Headteacher of the Duston School, a mixed all-through and sixth form based in Northampton. Strickland has responded to a request for comment about the Autumn Lockdown by saying ‘‘School leaders have had to demonstrate extreme professional agility during the course of the pandemic. They have had to safeguard their schools, mitigating against multiple risks as posed by the virus.
Simultaneously there has been a real need to show huge emotional intelligence, supporting staff and pupils not only to do their job and to learn but also supporting their emotional wellbeing and welfare. Decisions that have arguably been devised late in the day or landed on school’s laps at the last minute have had to be digested at speed, with leaders having to carefully consider how these messages translate in reality on the ground.
Invariably difficult decisions have needed to be made and a huge skill that has been required is to make those decisions and the associated messaging palatable. There has been a need, more so than ever, for strong governance and a united front. Equally, schools have understandably fielded far more parental concerns and complaints than would be the norm.
Then there is the day-to-day firefighting, dealing with real time positive Covid-19 cases, which will have invariably had an impact on staffing levels and curricular delivery, coupled with navigating staffing bodies through the relatively untapped remote learning platform that our profession is now very much alive and alert to.
Undeniably it has been a challenge but as Winston Churchill once said, ‘when going through hell, keep going.’