#Hopes4Ed Event Summary: There is a new conversation about education

This event will focused on our #Hopes4Ed theme #01: There is a new public conversation about education: Launch a commission on the future of education and learning in England that unites the needs and ambitions of learners, educators, employers, and parents.


To tackle the challenges of the future, we need to design education systems with a broader set of outcomes that support ‘whole child’ development and help young people develop the capability to thrive through change and become agents of change themselves.


The HeadsUp4HTs community are dedicated to this. Now is the time to discuss what the future of education should look like and what needs to change in order to make this happen.


Big Change have recently published a report in collaboration with IPPR detailing how Covid-19 has disrupted learning in an unprecedented way, and how we might rethink educational priorities to build back better. This means preparing children for life, not just exams & tackling inequalities outside, as well as inside, the classroom.


Have a read here: https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/the-new-normal and let us know your thoughts by completing this short survey bit.ly/bigchangesurvey


We will focused our HeadsUp4HTs discussions for this event around 3 key points:

  1. a conversation about how our education system can prepare children for life, not just exams
  2. a conversation about where and how learning takes place – as well as who is involved in it
  3. a conversation about the need to tackle inequalities outside, as well as inside, the classroom.


Here are some summarised points from the event. The voices of REAL, AUTHENTIC school leaders and big changers at the coal face of the education system.


What is Education for?


At our special school we have revised our whole curriculum to 'empower our pupils to take on the world'. Our whole school focus each half term is a 'big idea' - eg this half term DIVERSITY (in terms of race) and our teaching is underpinned by Oracy (Voice21)


The first thing I would say is what eduction is not. Stealing the late, great Sir Ken’s view, I don’t believe education should be based on the industrialisation of the employment market. I believe education is a mission to live out your talents in the pursuit of contributing to community.


Society has inevitably changed and this liminal space should be an opportunity and  time to evolve.


As a parent and campaigner I’d like to see schools liberated from backwards-looking education policy, especially around assessment and certain aspects of curriculum, so that all children can thrive and fulfil their potential. At the moment ideological clinging to assessment on the part of policy makers is the tail that wags the dog, and we see narrowed curriculums, children’s love of learning supressed,  valuable teaching time wasted, deprived communities left behind and teachers and heads throughly beaten down. There’s a huge opportunity for change now.


We often talk about the beat of the drum... OFSTED drum? Or a values-based, school mission drum? This comes down to what a) the accountability structure is and b) how success is measured and valued.


Across the Whole Education network we found that Student agency was the key barrier to remote learning - i.e. access to technology was a barrier but not the barrier - agency was


The system currently measures success by grades


But what do we measure the success of education by ...we'd all agree it's wider than the results. We need to reclaim this.


I agree with the focus on looking beyond exams - the role of tech in ed is much more complicated - not least because use of digital needs to be driven by pedagogy not vice versa, and the what digital pedagogy means for the primary age group is unresolved.  Plus giving everyone digital resources doesn't  solve the problems of sufficient physical space to use them in at home


Redefining success will be at the heart of the Co-mission’s agenda


There's so much in the neuroscience and EQ linked to disadvantage as well as belonging and agency. Social stereotyping is bound up with so many assumptions and expectations


The schools I've looked at in US that have flourished have recognise the value of community agency in education and how this responsibility is broader than just with schools.


What is education if our young people leave school without understanding and knowing how to find their place in the world?


For our pupils (SEND) the ability to communicate their needs and to be able to make informed decisions and reach informed opinions is key to their success and happiness in life


All too often I hear the term 'hard to reach communities' This is always from schools / academy chains that have often isolated the community and have kept them away because of the drive to get the best outcomes


Do we feel that the curriculum is narrowing post pandemic? Or, is there a renewed focus on a more holistic curriculum? Is our curriculum out dated and irrelevant in the ‘new normal’ post COVID?


We've expanded our curriculum - more protected time for outdoor learning, music & art - all great for positive mental health.

We have an archaic system & archaic curriculum in comparison to schools worldwide. Look at the outcomes of the curriculum in schools like The Green Schools in Bali and SA, a complete different outlook on what education should be with an incredible focus on ethical curriculum and sustainable living


The work I did with the RSC ( real Shakespeare people) all supported developing rich language and active engagement with language for all, not drilling for tests. AP children and children from diverse backgrounds felt valued and LOVED it...they flourished. It formed the basis from a rich and vibrant approach to curriculum.


Our research with parents and children on the subject of assessment in this school year: 



Research with parents on the issues in general, showing that SATs  results are definitely not a priority when it comes to choosing a school: https://www.morethanascore.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Parents-research.pdf




The constraints of the system have for too long prevented schools from doing things differently. How can we show that there is another way when leaders fear what could happen?


I’m going to be a little bit provocative…..we have been here before with regards to wanting a different way…..the biggest difference is that we need to use the opportunity to action the change - I love discussion but I would also welcome action


So, what we need is actionable steps. To feed this back to DfE, to unions.


I've sat in on several conversations including with Head trade unions, where heads have been very strongly arguing against catch up and arguing also that their members shouldn't play the role of Ofsted inspectors, monitoring how fast catch up is going.  Our research project conducted a systematic review of the literature on "learning disruption" - not learning loss, a good deal of which is misleading.  The findings emphasise that recovery is helped by slowing down the curriculum, providing space for creative activities and opportunities for children to talk about their experience.  This is a useful reference point to counter the learning loss narrative that emphasises catching up


Agreed, slowing down the pace of curriculum and focus on getting the fundamentals right


The SEN curriculum has always been and will always be about the whole person. With SEN, we devise the outcomes that young people work towards and are assessed against. so powerful. We get to make a difference.


You might be interested in this paper on some ongoing research on the Phonics test in Year 2 bit.ly/AB_PSC


It takes us all to come together to make a difference. One HT in their school refusing to do the PSC just ends up with that HT in hot bother. We need to rise up together for change to be possible and now is the time.


We've been trying in the IOE project with Gemma to capture and document primary schools' experiences - to amplify the voices of the people who know what is happening in the real world. 


If you unpick what works, it’s because there’s a focus on the whole child, it is not exams driven and it’s about life skills and inner curriculum


I wonder if there are other ways of rebuilding stronger local partnerships between schools so that individual heads aren't left alone with the decisions they take.  Estelle Morris is chairing the Birmingham Education Partnership which is committed to working with all schools in or out of LA management - rather like London challenge


We have designed a system that allows a third of kids to feel like they’ve failed! What even IS that?


How about involving/looking at parents, children and communities as shareholders so that we are serving the needs of the people that the school lives in.


If SATs etc don’t go ahead this, that will be two years without them! Without the world ending. That is a very strong evidence base to say they should not come back.


Get parents on board by educating them too.  Together offer a curriculum that works for our community. 


We are doing something at a school level - we have transformed our curriculum and have consulted with staff and pupils. We are just getting on with it because we know its the right thing to do. So far the results (engagement and 'buzz') are exciting and are keeping us going through tough times


Our children are the business of everyone..Whether we like it or not the world is transforming...we HAVE to transform their education...it won't fit their world. This is part of the message. The world has changed, and we can all clearly see what attitudes, skills and values that have been so valuable in working through this and thinking creatively about it.

#TheNewNormalEdBook: A HeadsUp4HTs Event Summary

It was a pleasure to host the first in a series of HeadsUp4HTs events focused around The future of Education: What should Education Be?


James and Kate welcomed the HeadsUp community, alongside Diana Osagie, Arv Kaushal and Dr Emma Kell and held an electric discussion focused around 3 inspirational chapter from Opogo’s EdBook, which focuses on identifying and implementation a new and purposeful way of educating.


Diana empowered us to become Captains in an army of Change. A reminder that we are not defined by our roles as Headteachers, as school leaders. We are more than that. We have the voice, the strength and the power to influence the education system for the better. We will not reduce what we do to a mere title.


‘We hold the door open to the future of the nation’


‘We can’t keep doing the same normal.’


Diana challenged us to think about what changes we would like to see in the system. Thi is what we said:


I would love to see…..schools embracing inclusion in its TRUEST form - embracing difference


I would like to see an Ethical Curriculum that is devoted to development of self, of others and a sustainable way of living


I would love to see….less reliance and strength on the examination process


I want well-being for all of the community the top priority.


Fairer assessment of progress and achievement


A culturally and historically honest and true curriculum.


An emphasis on sustainable relationships


An end to the social mobility narrative in education - how can we empower young people to be the best people they can be, not just make the most money?


I would like schools to be judged against whether they deliver their school motto - every school has a statement of values, but we get judged on data...


I would love to see the role of HT become one that is manageable and realistic. 


I want all teachers entering the profession to lead a values based strategy to learning development.


I need to see that people, families and pupils are not marginalised. I want to see acceptance and a curriculum for all. I want to see consensus and collaboration. 


I would love to see more cognitively diverse recruitment panels - with clearer comments when giving feedback to those that weren't appointed - as opposed to inappropriate an lacking in authenticity feedback


I want to see competition broken down between schools and really see everyone working together to change education of every child for the better - stop referring to 'brave' leadership - it's just doing what is right for our children.  We shouldn't have to be being brave!  We are just doing what we know is the absolute right thing! 


So how are we going to action the above? We will be discussing these points more in our forthcoming meetings and events. But, in the meantime, hold yourselves to account the changes you want to make. What small steps can you achieve in the mean time? How will you start your journey into a new education?


Arv shared a moving experience of belonging. Belonging in the UK, belonging in the school’s education system. His vulnerability and transparency was applauded by the community He asked us, ‘How can we ensure that diversity and inclusion remains high on every agenda?’


Some points from the conversation that followed:


We need to be aware. Hold mirrors up to ourselves and to each other in a compassionate way. Moving from the unconscious to the conscious


How do we move from the current state of education to a path that is more aligned to our values and visions?


A question for everyone - Do you think the feeling of belonging is different when a protected characteristic is not visible? 


Honesty and integrity...comes down to having a long look at self... then re examining . The policy formation needs to be grounded in why...not just how and what.


The How is the greatest challenge I think


How do we get persons not aligned to our way of thinking etc to see a different point of view? The why is clear. But as Arv has said, the diversity of thought etc in the leadership isn't there.


We gotta get started - if not now, then when? Tangible strategies would support next steps.


I believe that a unified and conscious sense of belonging is a start. Getting to that start point is uncomfortable but essential. Needs to be meaningful and authentic


It’s a tough system, so we need to do all we can can to make sure every pupil and every member of staff belongs


We can't carry on like this- change is needed. 


We exist! We have voices. We want to make changes. We are powerful!


The theme that links both speakers is: "If not now, when and if not us, who?"


Dr Emma Kell gave us 5 questions around Wellbeing to think about, following from HeadsUp discussions around sustainable headship, wellbeing and the support (or lack of) available for Headteachers. 


1 - How will you know when your wellbeing is under threat?

2 - Where do you go where you don’t think about work?

3 - What’s your next concrete step in looking after yourself?

4 - Who can help you?

5 - When will you take time for YOU?


Some of our thoughts and comments focused on wellbeing ensued…


The problem we have is that the system is predicated on working way too many hours to achieve "an acceptable standard of education." I resigned at Christmas as a head and my wellbeing is 100% better. I've time for me and my family. It shouldn't have to take me leaving the profession to achieve acceptable personal wellbeing.


My work life balance is fantastic since I left headship


(In response) That's a sad reality for many at the moment Andy.  It has to change


I’ve spent 4yrs dedicated to writing the wellbeing section of the new curriculum


How do we change it? The DfE talk about wellbeing but neither they nor Ofsted understand the concept.


Being part of a Mat unfortunately put more layers on the time constraints and I was less in control of my time, but I still feel guilty spending time on me!


Thank you for highlighting that I have neglected my own wellbeing


Need to remind all of the teachers in my life, especially heads, of their FABULOSITY


I’m thinking about what disseminates from our Trust board and its impact on the leadership in our school.... I want to get brave and assertive on creating that not having it done to my fabulous school


Well being for HTs is absolutely key! It's been difficult for me as a HT this term but I am trying-will walk the school tomorrow pm after my HT time in the morning, at home, reflecting...


Model the values you believe in


We have to make sure our oxygen mask is on first!


If you are working so many hours what are you doing wrong?


Because so much of what we are asked to do, from above, is irrelevant!! but we are held to account on it.


It is also whether you feel you are supported - by your governors, trustees etc.


OFSTED are driving force in grinding school leaders down :(


Then the question continues… accountability for what purpose? To whom? If it doesn't add value to your pupils and community, then why? Who decides?


When did OFSTED and DfE know more than Headteachers at the coal face??


At the moment the frequency of changes in guidance and responses needed for updating risk assessments and covid response...this almost creates a new role within the school dedicated to covid response. The accountability hoops in that we have the additional pressures drives behaviours


At the moment Covid takes over the day and all the rest happens in the evening!


The agenda and responsibility of the GB to monitor headteacher wellbeing often feels artificial and tick box - and therefore not valuable!

HeadsUp4HTs: A reflection of my experience

I joined HeadsUp during Lockdown. I’d seen it pop up on my feed a couple of times and then I recognised a couple of people that were rewteeting. Several weeks into lockdown and the challenges and pressures from the community, the Governors, the last minute changes from the DfE and the sleepless nights over safeguarding were all taking their toll. I’d been running a school from my kitchen table for 6 weeks on top of home schooling my own children. 


Could I share a space with them? 


I attended a session on a Saturday morning. Looking around the Zoom studio put me at ease. Some names and faces I recognised. Lots of coffee drinkers. Someone was eating porridge. I could see a pile of ironing in the background of one member’s living room. No one had a fancy bookcase. This was a space for me! 


James Pope the founder of HeadsUp framed the space for us all: HeadsUp is a safe space for Headteachers, past, present and future. HeadsUp provide free support to teachers, through crisis calls, career advice, safe spaces to meet with other values-based leaders, events throughout the year all based on things real Headteachers care about. No one would be screen shotting or tweeting about others that attend, it was our choice if we wanted to share that we’d been to a meeting. It is a place to share vulnerabilities and champion the role of Headship. 


We talked about what we felt needed to change in the system. We all had a chance to speak. As usual, I felt nervous about sharing a part of myself with others, but James and the other Heads had put my mind at ease with their reassuring nods, smiles and championing chatter in the chat function. Within the first session I felt part of an extraordinary community.


Over the weeks, as I attended more sessions, I learned more about the other members. Some Heads appeared each week, fiercely loyal and compassionate in remembering the details shared by others in the weeks before. I shared my number with another Head who had messaged my privately during the session. ‘Are you ok? You look tired this week.’ That Head is now a friend. We are united through HeadsUp and share our values and have telephone chats on our car journeys most weeks. Another Head sent me a book in the post, she noticed I was having a bad week and wanted to cheer me up. 


Towards the end of lockdown I was on my knees. James had offered the free crisis calls and I needed help. I called him late one night. He listened as I ranted and struggled to articulate my feelings and explain the situation I’d found myself in. He calmly coached me through my thoughts. He shared a little of his own experience. He repeated my thinking in a way that sounded more logical. He asked me to think about the pros and cons of the situation. Most of all, he reminded me that the problem was not me, and that I was in control of the situation. He left me standing stronger and with some small actions to complete to improve my situation. I’ve had two more calls with James since then and my issues were resolved and I moved forwards. There’s a lot to be said about those that support and give their time for free. I know that there is always someone at HeadsUp who is willing to give their time to me. 


Some Heads are really going through the mill. Others have been brutally pushed out of the system and attend as part of a cathartic process and to support others in a similar position. Others are new to headship yet have an enviable energy and innocence! Everyone has a story to tell, a journey to share, and experience to enrich the conversation. 


Each week my cup is refilled as I meet with people like me. Heads who sometimes struggle, Heads who are finding it tough, Heads who are courageous in their pursuit of a better education, for their own communities and beyond. Within this group, I have a voice. I am valued and listened to. I am supported and I don’t have to wear a mask.


The conversations often develop from mutually supporting each other to a deeper discussion about what education could and should be and how we need to champion the role of Headship more. I know that there are several events coming up where we will get to discuss our ideas with a wider professional community. I like the fact that even Headteachers like me, with a small Twitter following and a small voice, get the opportunity to collaborate with those who are more widely recognised in the world of education. HeadsUp reminds us Headteachers at the coal face, in our crumbling LA schools, that we matter. That we have a voice and we can be heard. We are reminded each week that we are working in a human industry. Relationships are the foundations of what we do.


I love that we have opportunities to chair network meetings and contribute to the newsletter. Next month I’m going to host a Saturday morning meeting. I’ll get the chance to facilitate the safe space. There’s no hierarchy, no intimidating Edu Celebs, just a powerful and compassionate group of porridge eating, pyjama wearing professionals who have the potential to shape the future of education. I’m also going to nominate one of the members to appear in the members spotlight in the newsletter. He doesn’t know it yet, but he deserves a light shining on him. I’m also building up to writing a Thinkpiece about what it’s like to be an Introverted Leader and I’ve been asked if I’d like to write a Case Study on one of my experiences which I shared at a recent meeting. It’s surprising how you think you’re the only one that’s ever worked in a toxic environment! No - I can assure you you’re not!


I’ve watched Heads laugh and cry. I’ve laughed and cried. I’ve also changed policy and actioned changes in my school as a result of the discussions we have. I’m empowered each week and even when I’m feeling low at the thought of another DfE announcement, or a week of safeguarding issues, I show up. I show up because I also feel a loyalty and a collective responsibility to the members of the network. They’ve been there for me and I will be there for them, although, I am reminded by the hosts most weeks, we should only attend if it serves us to do so. See what I mean about compassion and values-driven? No pressure here, just recognition that there is enough pressure on Heads at the moment. 


To anyone who is thinking about coming to a meeting, or getting in touch for a supportive call, then you should. It’s safe, it’s kind and it’s empowering. It’s humanistic networking and leadership at it’s best.

OFSTED During Covid: A summary of their questions and our responses

This is a summary of an experience of an OFSTED ‘visit’ during October 2020 from one of our HeadsUp4HT’s members who is an Executive Headteacher in an infant school in the UK.

In sharing this, we hope to give you a transparent reflection of the items discussed during the inspection. This may support you, help prepare you or build your confidence and understanding of the process. Many thanks to our contributor.

Infant School Monitoring Visit

Telephone Call:

1. After agreeing to come in, inspectors asked for a well -ventilated room and wash room facilities etc
2. They asked if we had any confirmed cases (for their risk assessment)- we had literally just sent all Year 6 and 6 staff home
3. Explained the purpose of the monitoring “Covid time research” visit and that the questions were very much script-like used across all schools visited
4. They outlined the day ahead:

10 am start

10:15-10:45 Context

11:00- 11:45 Safeguarding

12:00- 12:30 Attendance

12:45 -1:45 Curriculum

2-2:30 Behaviour

The call lasted approximately 30 mins.

1. How effective are leaders in returning children to the school and implementing the curriculum?
our plans in the lead up to lockdown
our experience during lockdown
our actions since lockdown and full return to school

They also continually asked if anything positive or negative has emerged as a result of the above areas, actions etc

They went on to ask about our reflections in terms of what we might do differently next time and the learning that we have taken from everything that has happened and what we have actioned moving forward because of this.

Context of our school lockdown

We feel that what we did during lockdown has impacted on the full return of staff and pupils in September 2020:

o Utilised the lockdown opportunity for CPD to tackle areas that clearly needed addressing (my evaluation of current provision)
- Safeguarding
- Online Safety
- Google Classroom
- Purple Mash
- Mindfullness and Wellbeing
- Reading: RWI, Daily Supported Reading, Destination Reader (KS2)
- Writing: The Write Stuff
- Maths: Inspire
- Environments- clear out
o Recovery Curriculum –The Big Think approach for PSHE underpins all our learning now and is accurately aligned to our Christian ethos and values. That is the only change. Expectations are high so all the children are in receipt of a broad, inclusive curriculum. The timetables have not changed and this was the case from the word go. There have been additional outdoor PE sessions and music, singing etc have continued.
o Weekly calls and transition meetings at the end of the summer term, helped identify families who were anxious about coming back.
o Having Reception and Year 6 come back allowed time for staff who were absent to stagger their return and take part in CPD ready for the new term
o Risk Assessments
o Accountability document to delegate new and clarify expectations of roles and areas of accoutability
o SPAH Ways (non- negotiables)
o Communication to staff and children
o Rigour of home learning – high expectations - further enhanced by Google Classroom (and training) Purple Mash (safeguarding keeping safe online)
o Extra INSET days to allow for full preparation and teacher training -safeguarding addendum to include Covid info and Behaviour policy addendum
o Main barrier: No internet access at home (40%) and only mobile phones

Training for staff

o Mostly online training of staff e.g: already mentioned
o Oracy and effective communication, emotional inteligence
o Ongoing training for staff; also accessed training via Tom Sherrington, Mary Myatt, Ed Tech and Reach Team, Curriculum HEP, Bereavement Training, Mental Health First-Aid (Rebecca), SSS online. National Online safety.

Wellbeing of staff & relationships

o Updated staffing structure (Roles and accountability) – thought about where relationships were best, particularly for our most vulnerable children given Covid and absence from school
o Communication and checking in with staff
o SLT – line management structure supported others
o Signposting staff to external courses, including stress management courses – help lines provided on school website

School’s priorities and changes in priority

o Focus on Emotional strength through The Big Think and working closely with councellors
o Inclusive SPAH curriculum
o Sustainable & remote/blended learning offer
o Governor involvement re: Safeguarding, H&S
o More of a focus on oracy and language rich environments






o 1 new member started during lockdown 
o All new staff were included in all meetings and training opportunities then 3 more in infants and a music teacher


Attendance during lockdown

o Reported daily to DfE
o LAT (LDBS London) Weekly State of play

Attendance now

o 96/ 97% overall

Removals from roll since September

8 children left as a result of Covid in


A concern are the number of children leaving this week (infants only) due to circumstances out of our Eg. N-1 chid (left the country)

R -1 child homeless and rehoused out of borough

Y1 -1 child homeless rehoused out of borough

Y2 -1 child deported

Barriers to children returning (Google Forms survey and follow up calls)

Y6 first then Reception

o Travelling to school via public transport for those out of borough
o Parental anxieties
o Quarantining children/self-isolating

Attendance Policy changes

o None  - no fining of parents being brought in

Actions to make sure children are attending

o Parent Support Worker
o First day calling
o Calling parents and reassuring them
o Ongoing weekly communication via letters/newsletters and website updates/ Twitter/ phone calls/ visits
o Presence on the gate each day
o Working with EWO
o Home visits where necessary


How are children adapting to the return to school

o All good – very calm; staggering/timetabling has supported children’s behaviour

What actions have we put in place to ensure smooth return?

o Transition sessions
o The Big Think- mindfulness and wellbeing
o Videos of school on website – new class tours
o Zoom professional Meetings
o Transition information packs for children with 1-1 support or for children who needed it
o Meet the Teacher Meetings remotely – video and phone calls
o Very small school with a Christian ethos, familiar staff (transition not an issue)

Barriers to pupils’ behaviour/ attitudes- no issues

o Lack of routine for some children but thus far, no significant cases of this (quickly remedied)
o Some anxiety about new procedures e.g: children’s families with autism

Changes in routines for staff and pupils

o Risk assessment- shared all staff
o Bubbles, staggering, timetables, one-way systems, hand-washing, spacing, lack of visitors, visits,

Policy changes

o Reviewed Positive Behaviour Policy and addendum to reflect hand, face, space and new expectations – posters around school
o How we communicate and engage parents

Actions to support SEND children and @ risk children

o As above
o Weekly phone calls
o Regular communication with parents
o Individual risk assessments
o Inclusion Manager meetings earlier this term

Any poor behaviours or surprising changes in behaviours of children

o None – no behaviour incidents have been logged thus far

Exclusions – what have we done? What will we do?

o No exclusions to report

Use of external agencies to support behaviour – how has this changed during lockdown and now?

o Specialist behaviour support to support one vulnerable child who has yet to return (Supply Reception- high ratio of adults)
o N/A as not needed for others

Use of funding to support children’s behaviour

o Other than with one children, not applicable as not required



What are the changes to our safeguarding practices?

o TAF, CP & CIN meetings all undertaken remotely.
o EHCP pupils had individual risk assessments completed that were annotated as and when necessary (phone calls each week).
o Any struggling were referred to external agencies: Trailblazer, EWO, EP
and counsellors available for families and staff
o Recording concerns and following up – this is the same CPOMs.
o Guidance provided to staff about indicators of concern (training).
o Follow-up during lockdown on children not accessing work
o Home visits undertaken to monitor particular concerns and deliver food, check on wellbeing of the families we called
o Teachers completed weekly calls logs- where necessary SLT / DSLs followed up with any necessary safeguarding
o Used own knowledge of families to offer places to other vulnerable groups

How are we ensuring ongoing safeguarding for staff during remote education?

o Remote Learning Policy and handbook that are supported by risk assessments
o Meetings – inviting all staff to meetings and if didn’t attend, follow this up (meetings also recorded and available where necessary to support follow up)
o Weekly support staff meetings
o Free sessions from MIND and regular signposting to support agencies/training
o Offered Zoom staff meetings (NHS)
o Flexible with timetable if others for example, have not been in school
o Phoning staff
o Regular and clear communication to all staff
o Being open, honest and reassuring
o Code of conduct for remote teaching implemented as well as Remote Learning Policy and Contingency Plans

How have we identified new vulnerabilities?

o Same systems as before
o Know families who are vulnerable and providing support as required e.g: use of PSA worker
o home visits
o Risk Assessments including all BAME staff, pregnant staff members and those who arec most vulnerable
o Identifying indicators of new mental health needs and staff understanding its link to safeguarding; this was referred to on during INSET days re: KCSiE

How do we make sure the children get specific help?

o Referrals to relevant agencies
o supporting – food and clothes (books, pencils and packs)
o Resources available in school
o Weekly Inclusion meeting meetings focused on wellbeing and how well children have settled back in school (Team Time, additional time for support staff to meet with class teachers after school)
o Open channel of communication for parents via emails
o School nursing service
o Vulnerable children during lockdown re: FSM vouchers and local foodbank
o Providing individual support to parents who are self-isolating

How are we managing safer recruitment?

o Policy being updated to reflect changes
o Supply staff – checking of DBS and all necessary procedures (usual procedures in place)
o Recruitment would be undertaken remotely
o No volunteers or work experience students
o All specialist teachers, SALT etc when on site adhere to school’s protocols and procedures which have been shared with them e.g: Risk Assessment

How are we managing allegations against adults?

There aren’t any but if there were:

o Report to ExHT / HoS and would refer to LADO
o If about ExHT to Chair of Governors
o Would be done through social distancing and risk assessing each meeting

Any challenges in maintaining the SCR?

o None – all up to date

Concerns raised since lockdown – how have we managed them?

o Managed via email, phone-calls and PPE
o Safeguarding concerns logged on CPOMs
o Children not returning to school via HoS and EWO (only one but has since left to return to their country of birth)
o Parents called within the first day and then every day if necessary
o More details are now required when parents call in about child being sick



What is our trajectory to be delivering our full and usual curriculum?

o In place with rigour
o Immediate return - Transition, well-being, mental health, routine, relationships with peers and adults alongside assessments entered as Summer 2 after 2 weeks in
o Phonics and reading
o The teaching of subject-specific vocabulary, key knowledge or skills will continue to be a focus.

What barriers will we be facing to get this in place by the summer term?

o Class/staff absence and return to remote learning – see Remote Learning Policy
o Reading/writing stamina
o Readjusting to learning routines and behaviours
o Mental health issues
o Interpreting government guidelines
o Gaps as and when summative tests have been analysed – these have started re: tests
o Access to resources – bid in for additional resources re: GT, New Wave, Tottenham Grammar
o Volume of curriculum to cover between now and the end of the academic year

What is the breadth of the curriculum now? Is there anything we are not teaching?

o All subjects are being taught, though in more limited depth in some areas re: content
o Content which is chronologically important will be taught; teaching of required skills is non-negotiable
o RSE catch-up from summer term and prior to statutory requirement for April 2021
o Currently no swimming or external trips/visitors

Is there a difference between the offer each year group is getting?

o No, although each group will adjust according to need

How are we prioritising the content of our curriculum?

o Core areas in the morning to catch up with teaching of core skills where there are gaps

What priorities do we have in each year group?

Already mentioned

What are our assessment practices? What is the initial assessment revealing?

o Referred to week 2 data- early indicators are that outcomes are low.

Reading – are we changing the books we are reading because of COVID?

o Children take books home and quarantine when they come back
o Daily cleaning increased significantly

What is the nature of the support we are offering children to catch up? What strategies are we using?

o QFT – linked to all new training undertaken
o Online resources
o Interventions
o National Tutoring Programme sign up and engagement with EEF resources
o In house training re: high expectations

Are we doing anything to support specific gaps in knowledge?

o Pedagogy of teachers through CPD to determine gaps and plug them
o PLR – Professional Learning Journeys (Flip model of monitoring)

Remote learning – our journey to now. What are we offering currently?

o Purple Mash
o Google Classroom
o Online resources: Oak Academy, Oxford Owl, Learning Village for EAL children, Rock Star Tables etcetc
o Specific resources/work adapted for SEN children
o Packs provided for children as required

Is remote learning aligned to our curriculum?

o It was during lockdown; blended learning opportunities are being developed further via CPD
o Expectation currently to set one piece of online homework and give feedback after half term that has increased

Another Lockdown/ School closure/ Bubbles or Year groups isolating

What might the school do in case of further lockdown?

o See Remote Learning Policy
o Will continue to keep in regular contact with parents  

How are we using funding? How much is it?

o National Tutoring Programme, drawing on best practice from EEF
o Additional resources to be used at home
o Separate bid re: Grieg Trust , New Wave
o Embed funding strategy into Pupil Premium Strategy
o School Home Support

Has remote learning and the lockdown brought any positives? For any specific groups?

o Upskilled staff and children re: remote learning
o Routines and procedures are working better
o Community of staff have gelled better
o Parents more appreciative of what the school is offering – much positive feedback

What is the role of the parent in remote learning?

o Continually reviewing our parental engagement processes and practices
o Encouraging staff to attend parental engagement training
o Maintaining communication with harder to reach parents (AHT for inclusion)
o Tailoring the expectations of parents to the ages of the children
o Ensuring communication is delivered through a range of means (text, email, website or face-to-face)where necessary in order to make accessible to all
o Asking parents for suggestions of how they can help
o Target and communicate with clarity so all understand (consider language needs, translators)
o Home visits
o To ensure that pupils are safe when accessing online work – this was shared with parents
o Parents need to be present during Zoom meetings with councellors or any others that are necessary


Look after your Head

Look after your head

Recent time have been hard for everyone. Headteachers, in particular, have weathered some truly testing storms admirably whilst carrying the weight of their school communities’ health and safety on their shoulders. I, for one, could not have managed that without breaking down into a blubbering mess. I’ve been thinking though: who looks after the heads? I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to many school leaders, both digitally and in person, and often the subject of ‘loneliness’ can come up: being a head can be a lonely place to be, especially when you’re fighting battles that nobody in our profession is trained for.

I’ve read blogs, books and had training on ‘managing up’, but I haven’t seen much on ‘supporting up’. I imagine many of us do this for those around us or those we line manage without thinking about it, but in these challenging times I believe we need to make a conscious effort to look after our heads. Within this blog I will suggest some strategies to support your school leaders as they do their very best to navigate these unchartered waters:

1. Check in

Checking in and asking how someone is doing can have a significant impact on the trajectory of their day. Popping by with a cuppa and a smile can bring people out of dark spots quickly. In my experience, the kindest heads always bounce these questions back and ask how you are, so persevere and make sure you check in properly!

2. Back them up

Heads are making incredibly difficult decisions – some potentially life or death – and need their school communities to be 100% behind them. When a decision has been made, we should do our best to see it through as positively as possible. We, as school staff, are able to be islands of calm in a world of panic and it is our duty to always do our best.

3. Challenge them sensitively

Many people are at breaking point. Tempers are short and patience is wearing increasingly thin. There are going to be decisions made that not everybody agrees on, however there are suitable ways, times and places to have these conversations. A private conversation with your head can clarify things both for yourself and them – I’m sure they would appreciate your input and if you have reacted in a certain way then the chances are that other people have too. Challenging publicly and harshly or, heaven forbid, bitching about decisions in the background, can eat away at the foundations of a school’s spirit and demoralise many.

4. Chocolate goes a long way

Sneaking your head a bar of chocolate or a sweet treat can go an awfully long way. If you head is tied up in meetings, especially endless Governing Body discussions, having a sweet treat on their desk can give them the energy boost they need to power on. Brownies definitely work best in my experience!

5. Spread the load

Asking what you can do to help can significantly reduce the pressures and stresses on a head. Even if it’s something small, like a phone call or a lunch duty. That extra 5 minutes of thinking space can have a really positive impact when heads are trying to juggle so much at once.

6. Send them home

This one relies on you having a great relationship with your head. Many heads are working ridiculous hours, often staying awake to try and catch up on midnight Government guidance. Sometimes heads need someone to pop in and suggest they call it a day and head home to rest, then they can tackle problems with a fresh mind in the morning. This is easier said than done as so many people are worrying about things, however it can get really unhealthy and stressful when we start losing time with our loved ones. Alongside this, I would strongly advise leaving them alone on evenings and weekends – that email can wait until the morning!

7. Tell them how well they’re doing

It takes no time at all to pop across and say well done to someone. A (distanced) pat on the back and a thank you can take the weight of worry off a headteacher’s shoulders as every decision they make will be coupled with the self-doubt of “Am I doing this right? Is it safe? Is it the best way?”

I am sure many of us do all of these things already with those we line manage and work alongside, but often the head can be in a lonely place trying to keep everyone happy and healthy without anyone checking in on them. After reading this blog, try out one or two strategies and give your head a much needed boost.

Case Study : A sense of Guilt

I would like others in the same kind of situation I experienced to know that they are not alone, support is out there and you can come through in a stronger position both personally and professionally.

I qualified as a teacher relatively late in life having moved around, including living abroad, and looking after a young family. I moved quickly through the ranks and soon became a headteacher in a school in a socially deprived area. The school was judged to be ‘good’ and was performing well, although it remained a challenging job. Its reputation was strong enough to attract strong candidates whenever we had vacancies. A job at the school was always sought after by people I considered to be of the required standard.

The issues began when the school joined a multi academy trust. The school did so voluntarily and I thought it would only make the school stronger but I would not have believed the problems which followed. Ultimately the trust made a series of unfounded ethical claims about me in order to force me out. It had a significantly negative impact on my physical and mental health and in the end I left the school. The whole series of events was extremely upsetting and humiliating, particularly given all I had achieved. A strong sense of guilt went with this as I did not want to let anyone down by leaving but I felt as though I had no choice and the situation was not going to get any better.

You may well need some specialist help to support your well-being. You are not the best person to comment so go to a professional and see it as investment rather than a burden. Get a team around you, drawn from family, friends and professionals as needs be. Talking to one other person, whatever your previous relationship or their qualifications, may not be enough. Dealing with the events you have been through may take a while to unravel subconsciously, so let it happen and do not force it. This is what time away is for. There is no need to downgrade yourself in terms of expectations for your next job so make sure you are in the best possible position to go for it.

You may be tempted to seek new employment instantly but I would not recommend it. If you are in a position where you can take some time out you should do so. You will find plenty around to keep you busy if you slow down enough to look. When you have had a little time you will realise that you were not ready at the start. Eventually you will know the right time to look for your next job.

Do not be a hermit and keep your story to yourself. Sharing your story is helpful to others as well as to yourself. Use your existing networks and look for new ones. My trade union representative did not understand the circumstances I was dealing with and I have since gone elsewhere. There are plenty of people who can help if you look around a little.

Ignore the rumours and the whispers, you cannot control them so put it to one side. Ultimately people know a lot less about your story than you think. They are also less likely to judge you by it. Those you worked with closely, and plenty of others too, remember the professional you still are.

If you are not successful to begin with, including if you do not get an interview, do not let it put you off. The right match between you and a school will come along whether it is early in the process of looking for a new post or not. You do not know what they are looking for, and you do not help yourself by second guessing.

In this day and age an increasing number of professionals have a story to tell. Even if it is not the experience they would have chosen it is still valuable. Someone who has come back from a bad experience has a great deal to offer others. If a governing body or a trust only want to select from candidates with no bad experiences then they may be severely limiting their options.

have now moved on to a new job, and a better one than the one I left. I am now an Executive Headteacher with more responsibilities and a greater opportunity to make a difference. It was a difficult time I went through but I am now stronger and wiser.

Written by an anonymous former eadteacher, now working as an Executive Headteacher.