Back to school, but is the timing right?

Back to School

Lots of excited children will be returning to school over the next couple of weeks after a gruelling absence of six months. The feedback that I have received from children I tutor is that the excitement is more directed to seeing their classmates again as opposed to school work! It is fantastic that they will be returning to some sort of ‘normality’ and that all-important routine. Having spoken to numerous parents, I feel that they are understandably more excited than the children. A few parents have also stated that they feel they haven’t done enough academically for their children over the break. I have assured them that they are not alone and that they have done their job – keeping their child safe. Schools will be doing everything possible to accelerate pupils’ academic progress. Having taught in various local schools and engaging with the staff, I am confident that your child will be in good hands. 

Concerns Over Pupils Returning to School

Although I am delighted that children will be returning, I feel that it could have been achieved through a better strategy. The education minister, Peter Weir, announced a major U-turn on large aspects of the Education Restart Programme. Schools have been preparing to reopen using a safe approach, following guidance released by the Department of Education, which has now been drastically altered. Consequently, efforts from schools have been wasted – while also limiting preparation time to implement the new guidance. Changes within the plan include: moving from a phased return of children in small bubbles to a full-scale return of entire classes. Initially, it was planned that children would practise 2-metre social distancing, then 1- metre and it has now been reduced to no distancing between pupils within the same classroom. These changes appear to be extreme and I cannot help but question them. The change of direction is being made at a time when we are hearing about increased cases of Covid-19 (currently 300 per week). The health minister, Robert Swann, has announced that it is likely new restrictions will arise following a meeting with the executive on the 20th August. However, while Mr Swann will be recommending measures to slow the spread of the virus, schools will be welcoming children back at full capacity. As I have stated throughout the pandemic, I agree children should return to school as soon as it is safe to do so. However, at a time when Covid-19 cases are on the rise, I feel it is ludicrous that the pupils will all return at the same time in full classes. A favourite sound bite of politicians is that they are following medical advice, however, the constant and drastic changes in strategic direction present unclarity at a time when parents require assurance and confidence in our decision-makers. 

A-Level Chaos 

Following the A-Level algorithm debacle, GCSE results will now be based on teacher assessments. Additionally, A-Level grades will also be reassessed using this format. However, this is a little too late for many A-Level pupils as spaces on university courses may already be full, forcing them to either defer or chose a different course. The blame for implementing the algorithm in the first place has been passed around, but unfortunately, it will be the children, particularly A-Level pupils, that will suffer the most.

Accelerate Academic Progress with Education Support Hub

Following the extended absence from schools, we are running early P6 catch-up sessions aimed towards the 2021 Transfer Test. We are starting classes earlier than normal because children going into P6 will have to cover a large section of the missed P5 curriculum. Essentially, this could mean less valuable time spent on Transfer Test Preparation. 

In addition to Transfer Test preparation, Education Support Hub assists children of all primary ages. Following an initial free assessment, your child will join a small group (maximum 4) with similar academic ability. Groups of 4 children help mirror a classroom environment while still allowing our fully qualified teachers to provide individually tailored lessons and carry out a continual assessment on their progress. The teaching methods we use cater to a range of different learning styles to provide the tools for your child to become a more confident learner. We also utilise textbooks that are used by local primary schools, further assisting children in applying their new learning directly back to the classroom.  

Sessions are delivered by Access NI cleared tutors through the online platform Zoom ensuring that classroom bubble guidance is adhered to, in the comfort of your own home. If you would like more information, please contact us

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