Should Kids ‘Catch Up’, Or Should The Curriculum ‘Slow Down’? #TeacherThoughts #TeacherThursday

It’s been quite a week, already, and it hasn’t even finished, yet.

BoJo made the announcement we all knew was coming, but kinda hoped wouldn’t. That ALL schools are reopening to the children on Monday, 8th March.

Now, as you all know, we have been ‘open’ the whole time, remotely teaching the pupils who would usually be in our classrooms, since January 4th.

The extreme lockdown was put upon the whole country, as another variant of the virus ravaged the country. That, and the fact that good old BoZo decided that a little mixing at Christmas wouldn’t hurt…

Boy, was he wrong! And to top it off, he allowed a huge amount of schools to start back, after Christmas, for one day, before deciding to send everyone home, to learn remotely. And that one day appeared to make a huge difference to the figures, in that they jumped, as the cross contamination.

back to school

And so, we come to this week’s announcement, that schools will be reopening to pupils from 8th March. Still, though, no staggering the start, just everyone back.

Okay, so there are a couple of differences, in that pupils in Secondary school will have to wear masks when in class, too, and they will be asked to have regular LFD tests, to lessen the asymptomatic spread of the virus.

Still no huge changes for Primary schools. Neither have teachers been prioritized with regards to the vaccinations. No new ventilation systems, no compulsory face coverings, no reduced class size. But we, as a staff, are being tested twice a week.

Apparently, it isn’t schools that spread the virus… (it’s the people within them that do!)

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Anywho, that wasn’t what I was meant to be waffling about…

It was the little fact that the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, slipped into his announcement today, about Summer Schools.

As we all know, children across the board have faced disrupted learning for a year, now, and there is no guarantee that it is over, by any means. But, I’m getting frustrated by the Government’s turn of phrase now. Kids are ‘falling behind’. Kids need to ‘catch up’.

Sorry, catch up to whom, exactly?

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Each and every child out there has faced the same issues, and yes, I agree, that some from disadvantaged backgrounds or those with Special Eduactionan Needs, will have possibly have accessed even less learning.

But they are all in the same boat.

They have all lost around a year’s learning.

So, why the push to ‘catch up’? Why cause untold stress to both children, and school staff alike, pushing them to ‘catch up’, when, surely it would be simpler, for the DfE to rework the curriculum for these children.

We need to add a bigger section on well being, and those outdoor and creative pursuits, to allow these children the opportunities to develop, or recover, their social skills, communication and languge skills, and their physical development needs attention, too.

Maybe they learn the importance of certain grammar skills, or how to create a leaflet, or the importance of improper fractions, and decimals, a year later.

How about they concentrate on those fundamentals, for a little longer?

What if phonic knowledge, and the understanding of number was given more importance, for a little longer, to embed it, instead of piling on this ‘catch up’?

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But, no, that wouldn’t do, after all, it was stated, somewhere, that this pandemic will have lost these children around Β£40k in earning potential, when they grow up…

Just reread that last sentence.

How on earth can they even suggest that? What proof do they have?

If we were to slow down the curriculum, we’d become more in line with several European countries who have education systems and results that far surpass our own, as well as better mental health within the youngsters living there. And they are definitely not losing out on that earning potential…

So, the plans have been bandied about, to extend school days, or to shorten the summer holidays, so the kids can ‘catch up’. Or, the one he mentioned today, Summer School. (For the children who have fallen behind significantly. The same kids who we may have found it hard to get engaged, throughout lockdown.)

Yet again, they are forgetting that these children have missed being in school, but they have still had the learning opportunitites, through the remote learning provided, and the tireless support of their teachers and teaching assistants, over the period of lockdown.

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I’ve yet to meet a parent who is excited by that idea.

Most of them are horrified, saying they wouldn’t send their kids, because they needed a break from all the stress. Now, if funding was plied into summer sports clubs, youth clubs, and initiatives of that nature, they’d be there in a flash.

And I am pretty sure most kids will not happily say they want to spend their summer holiday at school, considering they have still been learning, albeit at home, the whole time. (You should have seen the mugs of my two teens when I said there is a chance there might be Summer School, this year…)

Oh, and who will staff these summer schools?

A token amount has been earmarked for all schools, with the throwaway comment that you could offer your current staff some overtime, or hire some summer staff to run these initiatives… though the amount they say will be given, might pay for maybe two or three members of staff, for a month. (Exactly how many children are you talking about us teaching during that summer period?)

Er, hello.

I work through most of my summer, already, preparing for the new cohort that is due to start in September, including sorting out the classrooms, getting resources ready, researching new lesson ideas… the couple of weeks I do try to switch off, is well deserved! And this is all going to be after a hugely exhausting year, where we, as a profession, and all school staff, have not stopped. We’ve worked hard, despite people out there suggesting that teachers are just being paid to sit at home and post a couple of ‘lessons’, (don’t get me started!) to provide an education to our pupils, in a format that none of us have been trained to do, and I think that, for the most part, we have done bloody brilliantly!

So, you are suggesting that I, quite possibly, work through that break, too?

I’m not going to answer that.

There is sure to be another U-Turn, soon enough, but just the discussions or thoughts of their ideas is making my blood boil.

I am going to get off my soapbox, now.

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Thank you and good night (morning).

66 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. akolzol
    Mar 08, 2021 @ 13:34:28

    Lovely written! 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. the Dad Chronicles
    Mar 05, 2021 @ 20:40:56

    I couldn’t be happier with my children’s online learning. I have seen horrors in other schools though. My 3rd grader will be going back the 15th and he’s so excited. Online has also allowed my middle daughter to complete highschool a year and a half early.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. SpookyMrsGreen
    Feb 27, 2021 @ 19:33:17

    Well said, Ritu! I had to turn off the radio this week because I could not stand all the government discussions about catching up. My children need to catch up with their friends and their social lives, not school work! They struggle to exercise properly at home by themselves because they are fed up with each other’s company and mine. I am not concerned about their academic achievements when I see what they are learning at homeschool, but I am concerned about their social skills deteriorating.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Feb 27, 2021 @ 19:45:32

      That is what will get them through life, not a bunch of grades, and I truly hope this thought will be something carried forward by all, so that the importance of social skills and mental health gets given the priority it needs. We can keep learning, academically, all our lives.
      We can’t learn those intrinsic skills of communication and language, and personal, social and emotional development, as well as physical development, later because the key years are gone.
      It’s all about laying the right foundations, before trying to build too ambitiously.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  4. Belladonna
    Feb 27, 2021 @ 17:05:29

    Great read Rita! This pandemic has been brutal for kids and teachers.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Maggie
    Feb 26, 2021 @ 21:40:54

    What an excellent post, Ritu. I have been shocked by how much time children here in the U.S. are supposed be online, facing a screen for hours upon hours with no social interaction. Many do not have normal interaction with their families, let alone their friends. The losses are across the board – no one ahead or behind. The toll of all this has yet to be seen. And that Β£40,000 comment is ludicrous.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Feb 26, 2021 @ 21:44:05

      Thank you for reading, Maggie, and ‘getting’ what I’m trying to say.
      Worldwide, life has been at a standstill. Why are we now trying to fast forward our children’s learning?
      I truly hope this time is thoyght of as signal for long term change of the educational sector across the board!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

      • Maggie
        Feb 26, 2021 @ 21:46:06

        I hope so, too. I shared your post to FB, because your concerns are global in nature. We have all suffered the same challenges and I fear our children even more so.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ritu
        Feb 26, 2021 @ 21:57:54

        Thank you for sharing! You’re right. Our kids are little champions for getting through this. And they will get through it. As long as we support them, not expect them.to ‘catch up’! πŸ€—

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Rebecca Moon Ruark
    Feb 26, 2021 @ 15:23:29

    Ugh! A county near here made kindergarten optional this year (whereas it’s usually required)–because they realized most 5 year olds were not going to be able to learn much through the online environment and would probably be better off having a year of play and trying again next year. Can’t we all just try again next year. Summer school. No way. My kids have mostly been in school all year (a tiny Catholic school, with no cases, thankfully), but even in this crazy year, the testing and expectations are so high. We’ve got kids in my boys’ class doing tutoring on top of everything else, so they don’t “fall behind” in math. That’s my question–behind whom?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  7. Jennie
    Feb 26, 2021 @ 14:22:29

    Bravo, Ritu! You have hit the nail on the head. Every nail.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  8. willowdot21
    Feb 25, 2021 @ 21:49:43

    Reblogged this on willowdot21 and commented:

    Ritu Straight Talking.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  9. willowdot21
    Feb 25, 2021 @ 21:49:00

    Trying to reblog Sis πŸ’œ

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  10. willowdot21
    Feb 25, 2021 @ 21:24:59

    Brilliant article sis , it needs to be spread about.πŸ’œ

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  11. Erika
    Feb 25, 2021 @ 20:31:04

    As if it wouldn’t have been bothersome enough now they want to cut the summer break?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  12. John Holton
    Feb 25, 2021 @ 19:02:33

    Where’d they get the 40K figure for losses due to not being in school this year? If you’ll pardon the expression, they pull it out of their rear ends.

    My guess is that there’s certain “target” knowledge that they anticipate a kid in a certain year of school “should” know by the end of that year. They use the same sort of alchemy that they used to come up with the 40K figure above to decide what that is. It’s kind of like reading scores to determine if a kid is reading up to what we in the US call “grade level”: they give kids a standardized test that purports to determine how far along they are in reading skills. My entire third-grade class, even a girl with Down syndrome, read at a tenth-grade level on the average, with many of us reading at the level of a high-school senior.

    Sorry for the cynical tone of this comment. My mother, God rest her soul, was an elementary school teacher for 37 years; I’m just repeating what she said.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Feb 25, 2021 @ 19:18:29

      The Β£40k figure must made our minds boggle, to be honest. What a load of rubbish!
      There are these targets. It is still the same, but this is why I think they need to rethink those age-appropriate targets, to suit this new generation of children who we don’t want to label as behind, but just acknowledge the fact that they will be starting their education, whichever year they are in, at a different starting point, from now on…
      And don’t apologies, I am passionate about this. Your mother must have been, too, which is why you still remember what she thought!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  13. Marje @ Kyrosmagica
    Feb 25, 2021 @ 16:46:33

    I really feel for you, Ritu and the other teachers coping with this. Working in a GCSE and sixth form college I know how hard teachers work. And I agree the stress has been awful, and the lack of opportunities to socialise will have a huge impact on kids who need to catch up on social skills too. Let them, the teachers, parents rest, have a fun summer and enjoy sports, and being with their friends. Hopefully, with Spring approaching I am hoping for brighter times ahead. x

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  14. johnrieber
    Feb 25, 2021 @ 16:44:00

    This is so important and glad you articulated it so well!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  15. Gemma - Wheelescapades
    Feb 25, 2021 @ 16:00:38

    I’m with you Ritu. I have no experience other than going to school myself, but I feel that keeping on telling these kids they are behind and need to catch up is more concerning than the catching up itself.
    I think we all just need to slow down a bit, and maybe the pandemic has facilitated that.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  16. Keith
    Feb 25, 2021 @ 13:36:24

    Ritu, thanks for sharing this. The fall out from this pandemic continues and we must claw our way safely back to normalcy. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  17. tidalscribe
    Feb 25, 2021 @ 12:47:54

    Yes, telling the older children and teenagers that their whole life is going to be a disaster is awful. Plenty of teens waste their time at school, while others succeed despite everything, it’s always been that way. From your ideas Ritu it would be good if each school could get on nurturing their pupils doing what they know is best for them. More important than summer school is making sure all children get fed properly during the summer break. Fun and food are what is needed!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Feb 25, 2021 @ 12:56:09

      Absolutely! We know there will be gaps but maybe this is a hood tome to reinforce with children whom have kept up, plug gaps with those who are struggling, and work at a pace a bit slower that before?

      Like

      Reply

  18. Annette Rochelle Aben
    Feb 25, 2021 @ 12:42:19

    only those in the trenches should be allowed to make rules

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  19. Books & Bonsai
    Feb 25, 2021 @ 09:04:41

    Reblogged this on Books & Bonsai.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  20. Books & Bonsai
    Feb 25, 2021 @ 09:03:20

    Your idea about not catching up is a brilliant idea, a much better and happier way of doing it. Personally, I don’t think schools should open until all teachers have completed their jabs…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  21. Ruth
    Feb 25, 2021 @ 08:25:52

    Here in Scotland we’re having a staggered return to school – the youngest (primaries 1-3) already went back last Monday (22nd Feb), and if the infection rate stays low over the next few weeks the rest will be going back later next month… So we’ll see how it all goes – good luck! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  22. Jen Goldie
    Feb 25, 2021 @ 07:34:09

    Here in Ontario they’re saying we are going into a third wave which could be worse than the previous ones. YET! They’re asking the kids to go back on a “Let’s see what happens”. I don’t have any of my own children to worry about, but if I did NO F’ing WAY! would I allow that. What’s wrong with their common sense?!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Feb 25, 2021 @ 07:44:00

      Common sense seems to be lacking In so many countries…

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

      • Jen Goldie
        Feb 25, 2021 @ 08:05:47

        I don’t know what to think anymore. I watched a live taping from a popular tobogganing hill. The kids were having a great time! It was wonderful to hear their laughter. The parents were gathered in maskless groups at the top of the hill laughing and talking as if nothing was wrong. I had to turn it off it was effecting my sense of reality. I was experiencing joy and sadness at the same time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ritu
        Feb 25, 2021 @ 09:22:32

        I know what you mean… and after seeing no one for so long, I imagine the gatherings of parents as they drop kids off, or pick them up, will be something we have to disperse, too!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jen Goldie
        Feb 25, 2021 @ 15:54:14

        πŸ’œ

        Liked by 1 person

  23. lssattitudeofgratitude
    Feb 25, 2021 @ 06:23:32

    A retired teacher here. My spouse and daughter are teachers. They were both told today that schools open for TK -2nd next week and 3 -6th grades the week after. Teachers and staff have not been vaccinated as promised. In my spouses case, the superintendent was on the side of the teachers. He was overruled by the school board. Junior and senior high schools, grades 6 – 12, have to submit a plan to the state proving they have met certain criteria. None have done so. My 10 year old grandson is in 4th grade. He was notified today that they will be attending school for 2 hours on 2 days. Everything will still be on line so no papers etc. No lunch, no recess, no mingling, but with masks. My daughter will not be letting him go.

    Teachers have worked so very hard this year. Every child has dealt with this year in their own way. Forget the state testing. Your words are right on, for all kids all over the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Feb 25, 2021 @ 06:50:32

      Thank you for your understanding, and support, Lauren.
      The world over, things are topsy-turvy.
      Here, school is mandatory, thus time, so parents don’t even have the option to say they’ll keep them at home for a bit longer.
      I fear we will be told that unless parents have letters with medical reasons to justify staying at home, their child could be fined, investigated or lose a school place. It is disgusting…
      We need to work together, to givevthese children their stable foundations, not build upon shaky legs!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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