On my way home on the day my school closed I was reflecting how strange it was that the things we had been discouraged or disallowed from spending our PEF budgets on were exactly what we were going to need right now. Resilience, wellbeing and creativity.
As our children and staff began engaging in education remotely, I noticed the ones who were struggling to cope without school, but could see they were managing to hang on due to their healthy relationship with their teacher.
I saw the creativity and bravery of teachers delivering a service that a month ago would have been almost unthinkable, and I saw the engagement of pupils and parents alike, accepting this challenge. I was relieved that our school’s journey to embrace change had brought us to a place where we could meet it head on.
However, the effects of £750 million spent in Glasgow to close the gap has all but disappeared over night. Three years down the line there would be little evidence of an improvement by the Authority’s definition of attainment. We did try to tell our leaders that the gap wasn’t an ‘attainment’ gap – but a parental gap, a gap of understanding, a gap of commitment, a gap of being present and in a real relationship with your child. A relationship that would lead to nurture and growth – but they didn’t listen. We knew that what or pupils needed was to be challenged, inspired and given a voice so that nurturing approaches to learning would drive the improvements we all wanted. Many schools recognised that only working to create changes within families, within relationships, within systems would bring about the desired improvement in outcomes for our young people. It couldn’t be a tick box exercise or a quick fix, but a significant shift in attitude for all concerned; staff, pupils, parents, authority.
Parents who at this time are taking up the challenge, spending time with their kids, being brave enough to engage in learning with them are reaping tremendous rewards, but other children’s homework packs are lying in the gym hall waiting to be collected.
Now the gap can only widen. While some learners are exploring, discovering and becoming self-motivated, others are opting-out of learning because it can’t be imposed, and no-one at home is encouraging them. As children return to school, some are going to be looking for a new partnership with their teachers. They will be active participants in creating a new curriculum which will be born out of shared experiences between the learners and their teachers. There will be another group of youngsters waiting to be coaxed and cajoled like they were in the ‘old days’. In essence some learners will be significantly behind where they are expected to be within CfE levels, but more importantly they will be doubly disadvantaged due to their lack of engagement in the new systems that will be developing.
The Authority have been demanding we pour our PEF money into ‘targeted learning support’ so that more children reach the appropriate level. Now all that effort will prove to be a waste of time and money as it will be impossible to measure attainment while children are ‘remotely learning’. It’s almost laughable that the hard-line message we’ve been subjected to recently has been all about data, and now there can be no ‘accurate’ or ‘significant’ data for this session. Had teachers been empowered and trusted to step away from the mundane and to co-create inspirational learning in their classrooms, then more of our pupils would be in a position to progress as self-motivated, skilled learners during this incredible opportunity. However, only some of our pupils will soar on their imagination and creativity while the gap for others will grow!
We need to build on this new learning, and we will have to work to create ways to evidence learning, engagement and participation while resisting being dragged back into measuring what is easy once we return to school. We need to be ready to unpack 21st century skills, to nurture and to transform. 🐛🦋
Head Teacher, anonymous