Unity Schools Partnership

MAKING REMARKABLE CHANGE HAPPEN

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The Government is again talking about advantages to joining an academy trust.

It provides an ideal opportunity to share ideas and challenge in equal measure with the common aim to offer students the best possible education.

At Unity Schools Partnership, we also feel that it is vital that our member schools retain identity and independence as each are valued members of their own community.

Individual schools know their staff, their students and their families best and we champion them to make the right decisions – for their school communities – at all times.

This week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson paved the way for the end of wearing face coverings in classrooms from Monday 17th March.

Masks have been seen as a successful way of reducing infection risk in the classroom while, at the same time, being somewhat of a communication barrier between teacher and student.

As the country prepares for the next welcome stage of the roadmap, so too are restrictions easing within our schools.

Does this make the decision right? That is a contentious issue with no one answer.

What might be right for one school doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for all. How do students feel in each school and staff members? Does it improve lessons or raise anxiety?

Many schools would have preferred face coverings to remain for a few more weeks before further evaluation could take place during the half term break.

This view has been backed up by trade unions and education associations and is one that we take very seriously.

So whereas some of our schools might lose the face coverings in classrooms from next Monday, others may not. This has to be an individual school’s decision – while, of course, everyone continues to adhere to the guidelines around wearing masks in other public areas in schools.

Alongside face coverings, exams remain a big topic and I applaud all the work that has been done, in and out of the trust, to help ensure students get the grades their hard work deserves.

Last week, one of our schools was filmed by local television with students and staff interviewed about the changes to this year’s exams.

It was heartening to hear students feeling relatively calm about the situation and how they felt this year’s results might even be worth more in the eyes of further education and employers, considering what the last 12 months have been like.

The interviewer also asked about the long-term future of exams and whether they still had a place.

Exams do have merit but the debate about whether they should now be part of a larger portfolio of assessment is one that is certainly worth having.

TGS Look East filming
Students at Thomas Gainsborough School interviewed by BBC Look East about exams

Individual schools know their staff, their students and their families best and we champion them to make the right decisions

TIM COULSON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, UNITY SCHOOLS PARTNERSHIP