With many English state schools breaking up today, management and teaching staff will also be concentrating on what their premises and classes will look like in September 2020. While trade unions have serious doubts about the viability of Government plans for all-class returns, schools have no choice but to crack on and prepare.
Year groups will be in class or year group bubbles and their start, break, lunch and finish times will be staggered. Assemblies and communal activities will be prohibited. Desks will be forward-facing and windows will be left open if possible. Some schools may need to be creative with learning spaces by using marquee-style, pop-up classrooms or using gyms, halls and other open spaces, or even local facilities.
What will not change is that teachers will still be required to incorporate remote learning into their lesson plans. Just as teachers have been setting online tasks and teaching via video for 75% of year groups for the last four months, they will still need to rely on these skills if there is a local lockdown, a year group is quarantined or a school is closed down.
All schools will have been using one or more communications platforms to deliver these lessons, be that by Google Classroom, Show My Homework, Satchel One or Microsoft Teams. The summer holidays may give them time to reflect on whether these are the right tools moving forward.
In my colleague’s recent blog, he writes about how Microsoft Teams enriches classroom features to make learning accessible from home with 7x7 video grids, breakout rooms and attendee tracking. You can also view our recent webinar recording aimed at schools, which may be helpful if you are considering Teams for not only teaching purposes but as a phone system for incoming and outgoing calls and collaborative communication between colleagues and students.
We have also considered how school Wi-Fi solutions may need updating to cope with extended learning spaces. Dead spots with no coverage need to be addressed in areas that are being used for classrooms and they may now need to include outdoor spaces. Slow speeds and security breaches would be equally unhelpful, especially if you plan on using more devices at school next year.
Just as schools are adapting to how they teach students, we are adapting technology to suit their changing needs. The thing is, nothing is normal right now and it won’t be in September either. COVID-19 has changed our society, so we must all change with it. Just as schools need to be creative with space, we both need to be creative with technology.
If your school wants to discuss its plans for September in terms of IT and communication, then please do not hesitate to contact me. We have already helped schools prepare for the next academic year, we would like to help you too.