Well in the week we have seen Oldham, as a town, top the list of Coronavirus cases, it continues to be an incredibly disruptive time for our children and young people, our staff and our families.
All of our schools and post 19 organisations have been affected this week. I don’t know if you feel the same way as me, but I’m becoming increasingly, increasingly frustrated with this horrendous disease.
I got told off this week, by my own children, for not mentioning them in these blogs! I’ll start this week’s blog by giving you their experiences. Olivia is doing her A levels and Jack is in Year 10. Olivia is facing exactly the same challenge as many of our young people who are planning to do exams next year. She has had her studies massively interrupted. She has around 2 hours face to face teaching a week. Most of her studies are at home, using Zoom. Far from perfect when she is studying performance arts!! Jack has, so far, managed to attend school for around 3 weeks since April! Like many of our children in our schools he has been subject to bubbles bursting when one of his year group, friends or football team have become infected. As parents both myself and my wife dread the email or phone call from school or college. However, we also feel slightly compromised. I guess many of you feel the same. The fact is, we know schools and colleges are only erring on the side of caution. They are ensuring that our children stay safe. I hope that you believe our organisations are acting in the same way? Everybody staying safe through this Winter period is absolutely essential – it has always been and continues to be our number one priority.
I looked on with interest as both the Welsh and Scottish administrations decided to move away from “written” exams, in 2021, and moved to a model of teacher assessment and prior attainment. I heard an interview with a Government minister insisting that there will still be a “traditional” round of GCSEs and A levels in England next year. Her view was that it was the only “fair way” to test young people. I really can’t see how anyone in government can talk about fairness and equality. There has been a massive variation of attendance in schools. Schools, and children, in our Trust, along with thousands across the North West, have been seriously disadvantaged. I accept that some young people can learn using a virtual platform, but that’s not all children! I’m hopeful that our voices will be heard and we can explore a fairer way of assessing our children’s learning in 2021.
So back to our children. A significant proportion of the young people in our schools we know will struggle to understand how one day they are in school and the next they are not. It must be so confusing for them. Along with other school and trust leaders we are trying to push for a roll out of the latest test kits into schools. As I mentioned last week, the Lateral Flow Test has the potential to be a real step forward in avoiding much of the disruption mentioned above. We can administer the tests on site and we get results within around 1 hour. I’ve another meeting on Wednesday with Government to put our position across.
I guess one piece of positive news to come out this week linked to the pending vaccinations. What brilliant news this was. I’ve read this morning that there will hopefully be an announcement in the next few days about the Oxford vaccine. I remain optimistic that the amazing people behind these technologies will succeed. We’ve got to continue to push for our vulnerable children, their families (and the staff that work with them) to be some of the first group of people that are vaccinated. In my opinion, it is the right thing to happen. Our colleagues in the NHS, our care workers, the vulnerable in our communities must be given precedence.
Anyhow, I’m looking forward to a blog where I can talk about some of the achievements of our wonderful children and staff. I think many of us will be glad to see the back of 2020!!
Stay safe, best wishes,
You can find all Graham’s previous updates and blog entries here