Last week I had the pleasure of welcoming our school headteachers and trust education leaders to a joint virtual call.
With time such a precious commodity within the sector, it was great to spend an hour and a half with them discussing how everything was going in their individual schools.
The juggle between a comprehensive home schooling programme and supporting those still attending school buildings, the continued campaign for more digital devices and how we support students across the full educational spectrum were all discussed.
It was a fantastic opportunity to share ideas, tips and examples of what works and what could be tweaked.
It doesn’t mean one size fits all. Far from it. Each of our schools within the trust proudly retains its own identity and knows best what is right for their own staff, students and communities.
But sharing ideas and resources, and indeed just talking and seeing each other, albeit on screen, was a great way to spend a Friday morning.
Of course, the hottest topic and the question on everyone’s lips was when will all children be going back to their schools?
As I write this, we are still no clearer to knowing what the Government roadmap to recovery looks like.
Will primary school children go back first? Will schools work on a rota of physical attendance and still negotiate the balance between home and in-school learning? Will teachers be close to the top of the queue in the next round of vaccination priorities?
I wish I had those answers, and more, but as yet it remains unclear.
We welcome the Government’s plan to give schools two week’s notice before anything is decided for the week commencing Monday 8th March.
And we will of course share all news, and how it affects your school and children, as soon as we know more.
While we all look to the current and short term, we must also look to the future.
We have already begun planning for life after the pandemic, even if we don’t have all the answers around what the educational climate will look like in months and years to come.
The tutoring programme, headed by Unity Schools Partnership, is now making a real difference to identified students and we are working closely with national leaders about what education after the pandemic might look like and what the priorities will be.
We are also working on the opening of brand new schools within the trust – a special school in Bury St Edmunds and a primary and special school, both in Romford.
We look forward to working with the communities in both towns as we develop our plans before opening.
This community work is so important and we were heartened to have the support of local businesses who have generously donated digital devices in recent weeks.
We have utilised our own resources, and Government support, but this offer from within our own communities is both crucial and never taken for granted.
By Tim Coulson, Chief Executive, Unity Schools Partnership