'Return to school' Strategy 2021
What is Shining Even Brighter?
As we welcome all pupils back to school, our ambition remains the same: we want every child to flourish, letting their light shine at home, in school and within their wider community.
Shining Even Brighter is our strategy for supporting pupils as they return to on-site provision at school. It sets out how we intend to build upon the work that we already do so that we meet the social, emotional, spiritual and academic needs of our pupils at such a crucial time.
In this, we are actively seeking to avoid the ‘catch up’ narrative*; rather, we will celebrate the strength we have all shown in responding to difficult circumstances and build upon the many successes of the past few months. Whilst this has been a challenging season, we’ve seen the very best of our children; they have inspired us all with their resilience, positivity, and optimism. Our narrative will be one of hope and it is our intention that ‘Shining Even Brighter’ will capture this. Our focus in the coming months will be celebrating the strength of our pupils whilst supporting them to ‘shine even brighter’.
*The British Psychological Society recently warned of the unnecessary psychological pressure placed on children by the ‘catch up’ message. Full article here.
What has been the impact?
The report below sets out the impact of the first phase of Shining Even Brighter (March to July 2021). The second phase begins in September 2021 and will form a central part of the School Development Plan for the 2021/22 academic year.
Context: Why is this strategy needed?
The consequences of restricted on-site school attendance in 2020 and early 2021 are complex. Whilst the impact on every pupil is unique, we have grouped the emerging themes and challenges into these overlapping categories:
- Pupil attainment and progress
We anticipate that there will be knowledge gaps that are difficult to anticipate. Despite the positive engagement in remote lessons (see figures below), we remain cautious about the extent to which new learning has been remembered.
As usual, areas of focus for each year group were identified in December following our autumn assessments. We expect these priorities will still apply when pupils return in March.
Pupil wellbeing and spiritual development
Motivation: In some cases, motivation for learning will have decreased. From 88 responses to our parent survey, 25% described their child’s motivation for learning at home as ‘inconsistent’. A further 12.5% described their child as 'reluctant' to engage in lessons.
Anxiety: There have been increased reports of anxiety amongst pupils. In some cases, a lack of routine exacerbates this.
Isolation: Many pupils have felt isolated and have missed the school community. In some cases, older siblings have felt especially isolated with parent supported targeted at younger siblings.
Spiritual development: Participation in daily worship has reduced. Parent responses indicated that only 50% of pupils working from home engaged with the daily worship resources 'most days' or 'every day'. All pupils have missed the usual discussions (alongside the opportunities to pray and worship together) within collective worship that play an important role in their spiritual development.
Pupil attendance and engagement
Engagement with lessons has been positive (given the remote context) but has been far lower than during usual school attendance. The average lesson completion rate has been between 78% and 89% in each class*.
Engagement has been lower in wider curriculum areas. Average lesson completion rate (73 - 80%) is lower than English (84%) and maths (92%)*.
The majority of pupils have been working at home throughout January and February, missing face-to-face interaction with teachers and peers. A proportion have been eligible to access on-site provision at school. 59% have been at home full-time; 24% have attended school full-time; 17% have attended school part-time.
We anticipate that the variation in the quality and frequency of engagement will have widened the attainment gap in each class.
*Based on analysis across a full week in late January 2021.
Our aims: What do we hope to achieve?
In responding to the challenges we face, we will be driven by these goals:
- To support all pupils to thrive socially, emotionally and spiritually in 2021, embracing and enjoying ‘life in all its fullness’. [Life in all its fullness]
- To support all pupils to attain as highly as possible in mathematics and English, despite disruption to normal learning in school. [Attainment in core subjects]
- To support all pupils to make as much progress as possible against curriculum-related expectations for their phase in mathematics and English.
[Progress in core subjects]
- To continue to offer a challenging, broad and balanced curriculum in all subject areas that builds knowledge cumulatively. [Broad and balanced curriculum offer]
Our strategy: What are we going to do?
The Education Endowment Foundation’s tiered model has been used as framework for our strategy (see The EEF guide to supporting school planning: A tiered approach to 2021). Actions to address the problems identified have been split into three areas: teaching; targeted academic support; and wider strategies.
The overview below sets out our approach with key actions and strategies. We have also developed a more detailed implementation plan to fully operationalise this strategy.
How can parents and guardians help?
When planning and developing our strategy, insights from parents were a vital source of information for us. In February 2021, we captured parent views through a survey entitled 'My Child's Remote Learning'. The purpose of this survey was to help us understand each child's experience of learning whilst accessing lessons remotely at home. Whilst teachers were able to view and respond to work submitted via Showbie, we knew that this only told part of the story. What about their motivation? How long did lessons take? What did they find difficult about being unable to attend school? The responses parents provided helped us prepare to meet the needs of pupils as they return.
As we move into implementing our strategy, parents and guardians have an important role to play in helping us achieve our goals. As always, this begins with keeping parents informed; we hope to do that through this web page, by hosting webinars and through regular updates within newsletters and ParentApp messages.
Parents will be able to help in specific ways, for example:
- Supporting their child towards personal targets (these will be shared at parents evening and, where appropriate, activities will be suggested or signposted).
- Asking their child to recall key learning from the day.
- Encouraging their child to make the most of every minute at school so that they can 'shine even brighter'.