Sharing best practice: Providing practical help and support in uncertain times
At TheSchoolBus, we’re familiar with sharing support, guidance and resources to our online community of educators. During lockdown this became common practice among educators who had found solutions to key challenges facing students, families and teachers and were keen to share their learning online. In this blog, we look at the biggest challenges school staff have faced over the last few months and explain what tactics you can use to provide additional support.
When the coronavirus pandemic led to the closure of schools across the country, the whole Education community felt anxious about how this transition would be managed, how long it would go on for and what to expect during lockdown. In times of uncertainty, the Education community relies upon school leaders for clear direction and quick solutions. In our case, this meant helping school leaders understand the ever-changing requirements, encouraging them to take immediate action and providing staff with risk assessments and safety briefings. Now, this support has shifted to providing reopening plans, social distancing policies, remote learning guidance and letters to parents. In many cases, it’s important to remember that these resources will be reviewed and updated when new guidance is released.
Helping staff regain precious time
With the DfE releasing numerous updates at any given time, it’s essential that school leaders do all they can to keep staff informed and provide advice on streamlining their workload. We kept schools up-to-date with sector updates and the latest news through our social media and our latest Coronavirus updates article (notifying school leaders via email every time a major update took place). School leaders are advised to make sure they have something similar in place to make sure that school staff understand the most recent guidance, can answer questions from students and families, and feel secure in their own knowledge of what is expected from them.
Providing support and development
This has been a time of high stress and increased workload for staff. It’s important to give colleagues a chance to voice their thoughts and concerns at this time, and it’s a good idea to draw on insights from experts in the industry on how to deal with topics such as bereavement, mental health and resilience. For example, we held virtual meetups for our members including breakfast briefings and collaborative coffee mornings in order to help create a space for school staff to feel supported. We’d also advise creating resource packs for your schools – for example, we circulated free resource packs during this time such as ‘Coronavirus Resource Pack,’ ‘Coronavirus: Expert Insights Resource Pack,’ ‘Coronavirus: Local Lockdown Contingency Resource Pack,’ ‘Coronavirus: Operating your school from September Resource Pack,’ and many more, ensuring we were providing our members with the information they needed at every stage of the pandemic. This helps to make sure staff can find advice and information at all times.
Supporting continuing professional development
Throughout the pandemic, we have observed staff growing more confident in their use of hardware and software in the classroom. Teachers have discovered new ways of working and innovative approaches to keeping children engaged. We felt it important for school staff to still have the opportunity to develop themselves professionally even through such an uncertain time, so we made our e-learning platform available free of charge to anyone joining TheSchoolBus. We have now made all our courses free to access for our entire TheSchoolBus community – providing staff with access to continuing professional development helps to keep morale up, upskill teachers and drive engagement.
Despite the fact that 2020 has been a challenging year, we’ve also observed educators, school staff, families and students succeed in the face of adversity. Despite the difficulties we face, it’s important to celebrate these successes and highlight the efforts being made by the Education community. You can do this in many different ways – we did so by launching a ‘School Superheroes’ campaign. We shone a light onto the amazing work of school staff, which was then displayed on our online ‘Wall of Fame’. We also launched our ‘School’s out for Summer’ competition which saw school staff across the country share their long overdue photographs of their Summer fun and well-deserved breaks.
These are just some of the challenges we’ve observed in our Education community, and a few solutions we’ve implemented in order to help educators overcome these difficult circumstances. We have listened to the needs of our members throughout the pandemic and they helped us shape our future products to support them in even more areas of their working lives. As a result, we are excited to be releasing new software that removes uncertainty when it comes to compliance, DfE requirements and COVID-19 safety, and helps schools to rapidly address areas of risk.
As the new term starts and schools begin to open back up to pupils, there is still a way to go until ‘normal’ life fully resumes, but at TheSchoolBus we are continuing to support our schools in every way we can.
Throughout the pandemic, TheSchoolBus provided tens of thousands of pounds worth of resource to the Education community free of charge. You can find out more about TheSchoolBus here.