Bridging the gap in learning post-lockdown

Teacher bends to help a child with classwork

With schools now going back and the promise of no more lockdowns, this is the time to try and answer the big question. Just what do we do about the big gap in learning – the curriculum content that has been missed?

I can see four, general possibilities:

  1. Start where we left off when the schools closed, move quickly and try to close the gap in the terms ahead.
  2. Identify and name the gaps in teaching, promising to address them further down the line but minimising stress now.
  3. Take up the summer holiday as a time for catching up and hope this is enough time.
  4. Accept that some of the curriculum is missing and move on.

All are possible and all are unpalatable but there is a real gap in the curriculum that should be filled. The problem is made more complex by the fact that different schools will have covered different amounts of content during the lockdown. This means the size of the gap will vary from school to school and the strategies for solving the problem will vary in both nature and magnitude.

Sir Kevan Collins, the newly appointed Catch-Up Tsar, has said that the government’s proposed summer package was a good start but not actually a plan.

We need to go much further, with a more fundamental and long-term piece of work.

he told MPs, going on to say that the solution need to be bold and ambitious with a solution that “needs to be long term, sustained and far-reaching”.

I think we all agree. Meanwhile we all wait to be told about the long term, far reaching and sustained solution that, as yet, remains undefined. I have been chatting to teachers who are doing their best to manage the slow return to schools. It’s not easy! Policies and practices vary schools to school and it seems like everyone is giving their all to make it work.

So where to now?

How can we help each other as we navigate the “roadmap” to the next version of normal?

Calm.

Accept that some colleagues will be finding this very difficult indeed. Tempers may fray and frustrations are inevitable. Its time to exercise some of that mindfulness and calm so many of us were practicing in lockdown.

Patience.

The less engaged some children have been for the last year the more difficult they will find the return. It is going to take many kids quite some time to get back into the habit of school.

Trust.

School leaders are faced not with a roadmap but with uncharted territory. They will need the trust and support of the whole team. Leaders will also benefit from being told what is and in not working. It is not a time for grumbling.

Communication.

The government talks about data not dates but schools will need facts not factions in the months ahead.

We need everyone pulling together, communicating openly, letting the children feel they are in safe hands and that the steps the school is taking are the right ones.

About the author

Peter Hogan has been head of four schools in the UK and overseas. He has taught at and led schools in the state and independent sectors, spent a decade as a schools' inspector and acted as education adviser for organizations including The Financial Times, HSBC and a number of international charities. He has also served as a school and a university governor.

Follow Peter on Teacheroo

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