Top tips for going back

Shannen Doherty

Shannen is a primary school teacher in South London. She is also maths, PSHE and assessment lead at her current school, though she has worn many other hats during her career. Shannen is keen to get teachers engaging with research and taking ownership of their professional development. She is a mentor to trainee and early career teachers who are looking to move up the ladder in their own schools.

Follow @MissSDoherty

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Up and down the country, there will be teams of senior leaders and teachers getting together (from a safe distance!) to discuss what school will look like come September. So how on earth do we start the process of prepping for September with children who have been away from school for over five months?

Firstly, I think it is important to recognise that this is what we do every day. Teachers spend their days working with children who are weeks, months or years behind all the time. Working with a whole class who are mostly behind might actually make life easier. It might seem daunting right now but it’s really not going to leave a massive footprint for years to come, especially in primary school. We’ve got the time and the freedom to put the pieces back together!

There has been a lot of talk about children’s wellbeing throughout this time. Having spoken to my families every week since school ‘closed’, I know that many of them are not leaving their flats and are finding life particularly challenging. But on the other hand, I know that there are families who have been able to make the most of their time together by getting outside and keeping their brains ticking along with home learning. Because of this gap, we will need to ensure a smooth start to school in September. There’ll be some who say that children would benefit from a soft approach to ease them in. To be honest, I know my pupils will benefit most from structure, routine and rules. I am not saying rock up with a scowl and get shouty on day one but I know that our children feel safest when they know what to expect. Rules, routine and structure will make them feel secure and is a culture conducive to learning. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there’ll be a few more chats than normal and they’ll need to be reminded how to socialise and play together but ultimately getting back to normal will make people feel normal.  

Without sounding like too much of a Negative Nelly, I will be writing off anything that was set for home learning during the corona pandemic. We cannot tick those boxes as taught objectives. A brief period of informal assessment is all that you need to ascertain where your class is, as well as a good chat with their old teacher. To be clear, I am not saying chuck tests at them left, right and centre. Any good teacher can assess their class by planning effective activities, talking to them and watching them work. To be honest, it’s not dissimilar to normal practice at the start of the year! They just won’t be as far along as normal… and they may have forgotten where the toilets are or what time lunch is. 

So where do we go once we’ve assessed our classes? The primary curriculum is a beast and is jam-packed with objectives. There are a few ways we can go about this: 

1. Shift the curriculum along by one term

2. Forget about the foundation subjects from the summer term and squeeze in the last year's maths and English objectives

3. Shorten the blocks of history, geography and science to cover what was missed and squeeze in some more maths and English

I have done a lot of thinking and talking about this in the last few weeks and I know that what we do won’t be perfect but it will be best for our pupils and our staff in our situation. While it might make sense to just shift the curriculum along by a term, it will end with everyone being a term behind and our Year 6 teachers may never forgive us! You will need to decide what to prioritise – it can’t be everything. Which gaps are you comfortable letting go? Can they get by without learning about the Stone Age? Do they need to finish that unit on animals including humans? 

We will be treating the subjects differently; you cannot have a blanket approach for everything. In maths, our teachers will prioritise numbers. Fortunately, most of this was taught pre-covid but there will be aspects that have been forgotten. We’ll add in extra maths lessons in the afternoons where we need to and we will cover shape, position and direction etc. later on in the year, dipping back into last year’s objectives to scoop up what was missed. I can’t think of a year where I haven’t had to do this anyway! Reading will be easier to tackle, especially further up the school. We can continue to develop their language, decoding and comprehension skills in our daily reading lessons. We’ll have a huge phonics push in KS1 and ensure Year 3 have appropriate interventions taught by their teachers. Our humanities and science units from the summer term will not be taught because there simply isn’t time to do it all well. 

It isn’t rocket science, but it does take some thinking and deciding! You know your children so you need to make sure you are doing what is right for them.  

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"