As the summer term comes to an end in British schools, thoughts turn to the new academic year in September.
The disruption brought by the Coronavirus has been fundamental and enduring to education systems around the world. The virus is no respecter of school timetables and there is a clear and present threat that schools may not be able to open ‘as normal’ in September if the virus has not abated.
There have been many attempts to characterise the new circumstances which will apply after the virus has been contained and it is more than a matter of semantics as to how the post-virus world is described. For the description is critical to the potential changes and possibilities that exist for enhancing learning.
Understandably, but disappointingly, from a management perspective the aspiration of many is to ‘return to normal’. That is the reassuring certainty of full classes following a full and timetabled curriculum in what is seen as the natural order of things. This sort of conservatism makes no recognition of how things have changed since the virus arrived and how students and teachers have learnt uncomfortable lessons about how they can and can’t motivate themselves and learn effectively, autonomously and independently.
A second management perspective is to yearn for a ‘new normal’, a post-viral approximation of pre-viral conditions. If anything this perspective is even more corrosive of the hard-won experiences of learning in the virus. It seeks to return to the old state with compromises determined by the impact of the virus, social distancing, intermittent learning periods for students and online learning substituting for face to face interaction.
A third perspective is derived from the development of online learning during the virus crisis. Whereas it may be true to say that schools have made more progress in the development of online learning over the last six months than over the last decade, we need to concede that this online learning has happened in a hap-hazard and ‘fire-fighting’ way. Again it was reactive and managerial in conception and may not represent the optimum use of online resources and ICT kit to enhance learning. It may be for example, that you have, in these extreme circumstances merely transferred your traditional curriculum online, with little consideration for anything other than learning continuity.
All these perspectives are failures because they are essentially reactive to the conditions imposed by the virus. They are also management and not leadership perspectives because they concern themselves almost exclusively with the optimum resource allocation, and not the leadership of the learning experience and enhancement.
Although written before the impact of the virus, Future Proof Your School and Re-Examining Success are primers for considering and implementing the wide-ranging changes required to enhance learning outcomes, collegiate working and reflection in both staff and students beyond the virus.
Based on four decades of experience, both books link theory with practice and show directions, models and templates which will give food for thought and positive support for enhancing the reflective learning of teachers and students alike.
The chapter layout for both books includes theoretical models, case studies, triangulation points, templates and background research to enable leaders, teachers and whole schools to set out on learning improvement journeys with confidence, a map and a compass!
As they build on the principles of learning mission of schools, the books are universally relevant to schools in different countries, cultures and sectors.
Both books are available from the publishers with discounts for multiple copies. Sample chapters are available to demonstrate the accessibility of the format. The books are also available in e-formats. The books are also orderable from all good publishers, and online.
Online consultancy sessions are also available to enable our school to develop a bespoke response to sustainable change management.
More details on the links…