ASCL comment on full reopening of schools and Ofsted research

25/01/2021
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders comments on the question of the full reopening of schools, and research published by Ofsted on remote education.
 
Commenting on the question of the full reopening of schools, and research published by Ofsted on remote education, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

Everybody is currently talking about the need to fully reopen schools as soon as possible, but what we actually need is a proper plan for doing so. The obvious solution is to widen opening in a careful and phased manner, perhaps through the use of rotas or prioritising certain year groups first of all, checking the impact on coronavirus rates as we go, and building gradually to full opening.
 
This needs to be supported by prioritising vaccinations for education staff, and sorting out the confusion the government has managed to make over rapid turnaround testing so that this works effectively as another safeguard.
 
“Research published by Ofsted shows that schools are working incredibly hard to provide high-quality remote education to children while they are at home. However, it identifies that a key challenge is pupil engagement and motivation, which is hardly surprising in these very difficult circumstances.
 
Remote education, no matter how well it is done, is obviously never going to be a substitute for direct face-to-face teaching, particularly for pupils who struggle the most. So, that is why we need not just words about fully reopening schools, but practical actions and a timeline of how to do this in a way that is safe and inspires the confidence of education staff and the public.
 
We are very happy to work with government officials and ministers on developing a plan, and we would like this to happen as quickly as possible.