This blog is the second of a three part series entitled “NEVER STOP LEARNING”. Part one pleads for education to “put the personal back” arguing that the key for any recovery is relationships.

Every child deserves a CHAMPION

When you visit a supermarket, you will often find a seconds aisle or money-off promotion. Buy-one- get-one-free or “money-saving” offers will entice you in and always make you buy that extra chocolate bar or that second beer you don’t need. You don’t look at the individual price anymore, just what you think you can gain. You usually end up spending more but feeling weirdly better off.

The individual price has been removed, the label takes over.

The power of a label is immense. We look at people differently because we label them as something else. Rumours, gossip.. “I didn’t know that!!” dominate social media and public culture. A politician or public figure’s career can be brought down to a shuddering halt by a label being attached.

The individual has been removed, the label takes over.

Are we in danger of doing the same thing within education regarding our reaction to COVID-19?

Lockdown

Lockdown has brought many difficulties and challenges. Pupils will have spend many months away from school due to the closures put in place as a result of Covid-19. Learning has been disrupted and, despite the many efforts of teachers and school staff in a variety of different ways, progress will have been lost.

One report from the BBC recently went even further with one headteacher stating it could take up to two years to bring some children back to their correct attainment level. 

“In a deprived area there is already a gap that we’re striving to close – to narrow and ultimately to close [the gap],” she says. “Children who have not got that support at home and have not been able to access that learning – that gap will have grown hugely.”

Ms Tennyson says her schools have detailed plans for the start of term to help the children catch up, but she admits there is a “mountain to climb”.

“This is going to take into this academic year and the one after to really get those children back to where they need to be and for some children it will take longer.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-53804740

Despite the emotional and academic issues caused by Covid-19 (and there will be many), we cannot allow this to affect each students chance of achieving and realising their potential.

We cannot label them “Generation COVID-19” and create a curriculum that encourages them to do “the best they can under the circumstances”.

Recovery and relationships are key starting points but pushing them and helping them to “catch up” as an approach should not be disregarded as wrong.

We cannot ignore the individual and allow the label to give us an excuse..

Algorithm Chaos

The same approach can be seen with the recent algorithm fiasco for A-level and GCSE results.

As Roger Taylor, chair of Ofqual stated..

Ofqual was asked by the Secretary of State to develop a system for awarding calculated grades, which maintained standards and ensured that grades were awarded broadly in line with previous years. Our goal has always been to protect the trust that the public rightly has in educational qualifications. But we recognise that while the approach we adopted attempted to achieve these goals we also appreciate that it has also caused real anguish and damaged public confidence.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/statement-from-roger-taylor-chair-ofqual

Pupils’ grades were downgraded because the school they attended had achieved those results in the previous years. They were labelled by the algorithm who assumed that, for moderation purposes, the school could not have made so much progress to impact the overall trend and picture.

The individual had been removed, the label had taken over.

If the 2020 exam fiasco teaches us anything it is that every individual is important, valued and should be allowed to reach their potential regardless of background, the area they live, personal circumstances and more.

Our job as educators is to inspire, to encourage, to strive for the very best for our pupils..

Every Child deserves a Champion

Rita Pearson, in her impassioned TED talk, said this now famous quote…

“Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” 

She called on educators to embrace the challenges of the profession and focus on building genuine relationships with students.

Her talk is a powerful reminder of the academic success all students are capable of achieving when they are empowered to believe in their own abilities.

  • Why can’t a pupil from a disadvantaged inner-city background not go to Oxford or Cambridge?
  • Why can’t a BAME student be given the same chances as a white one?
  • Why can’t a pupil from inner-city Leeds not have the same cultural experiences as one in a leafy kent town?

Moving Forward

Moving Forward in 2020 - Western Development Museum

The answers within education this year are not simple or straight forward.

It will require patience and willingness from all sides for teachers to help students continue to move forward but..

  • Why can’t a year 6 pupil in 2021 not get the same results as his /her counterparts in previous years?
  • Why can’t a year 11 pupil in 2021 not get the same GCSE results that he/she was predicted to get at the start of year 10?

As Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said..

What we’ll need is a period of national rebirth, in which children regain the habits of learning, are reacquainted with the reassuring rhythms and routines of school life, in which the teaching profession is left to help young people to make up for lost time.

We have some tough days and weeks ahead. But that notion of rebirth – of creating the future we want – lies somewhere ahead. And it will give an extraordinary opportunity to focus on what truly matters.

I have no doubt that schools, colleges, teachers and other staff will rise to these challenges and do everything possible to ensure there is no disadvantage to any pupil.

https://www.tes.com/news/when-schools-return-it-will-not-be-business-usual

And as Leona Cruddas, CEO of the Confederation of School Trusts, said..

“Learning loss can’t be known until children are back in school and can be assessed. We can close the learning gap – trusts can and do rapidly put in place recovery curricula. It is a long-term issue, but doable.”

https://twitter.com/CommonsEd/status/1273206773009301504

Our job as educators should be to always strive for the best for our pupils.

We must not allow ourselves to expect less of them in the long run because of the situation.

Please do not “INSERT LABEL HERE..”

Every child deserves a Champion.


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Thank you for reading this blog.

It is the second of a three part series entitled “NEVER STOP LEARNING“.

Part one pleads for education to put the Personal back..

Part three asks if we are putting our teachers in a position of knowledge?

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