Adapt, reflect and learn: How schools can get back to school with confidence this September​

Posted on 29th Jul 2020 in School News

With all years back learning in school full-time from the beginning of June, Claire Murdoch, Head at Faraday Prep School, offers her advice.

We know we are very lucky at Faraday, as we have small classes, spare classrooms and an enthusiastic school community that is always keen to make things work. We were quickly able to get all the children back to school safely and full time this summer term, and now we can look ahead to the autumn with confidence and experience.

Achieving a full return under current guidance may at first seem like a mountain to climb, and each school faces very different challenges, but if we had to share a tip or two for making it work, it would be to…

• Get creative

• Think outside of the box

• Adapt, reflect and learn 

Ask for Support: For us, we were able to call on our community. Our closest neighbours, The Royal Drawing School, offered us their art studios and this made our decisions easier. So, it is always worth asking - in these difficult times, people are keen to work together where they can!

Find the positives: The delight on all the children’s faces on their first day back in school post lockdown was worth all the planning and they haven’t stopped smiling since. Once back, we have made the most of it – with productions, art projects, competitions and sports days, all within our ‘bubbles’ and shared with the whole school with videos and photos. We rediscovered tennis, hula hooping and skipping! We had bubble machines to celebrate our victories and crowns to celebrate our birthdays...

Be flexible in your curriculum and get outside as much as you can! Once you’re all back, it is all about enjoying being together and interacting, discussing, debating and philosophising – plus using all those art materials and science resources you have missed whilst stuck at home!

Look after each other: Make sure staff and children take time for themselves, have someone to talk to and feel supported – everyone is out of their comfort zone, often dealing with other stresses at home and there is a lot of change to manage, from timetables to classes, teaching methods to reports.

Reflect on the benefits of remote learning: Don’t forget the wonderful things you discovered in lockdown, like virtual school trips and online art exhibitions. Our ability to collaborate across year groups and work together, a defining feature at Faraday, has not wavered - our planning was streamlined, our staff meetings focused and our guiding principles validated. To nurture and inspire… this is what it is all about.

Prepare everyone for their return: After a long time away, share what will be different, what will be the same and what will be better! Everyone feels better if they know the rules.

What we have learnt at Faraday has been unexpected; where we needed to be physically part, we found other ways to work together at distance. The House system became fiercely competitive, the children performed plays live via video link with animated backgrounds becoming their scenery. In many ways, this difficult time has forced us to thinking creatively, all of us. We are all now doing what we ask of our children every day: adapt, reflect and learn