'Battered and weary' heads eye post-Covid reforms

Despite 'inevitable sense of weariness' felt by many, there is now 'cause for great optimism', ASCL president will say

Amy Gibbons

Covid and schools: Education needs to 'regenerate', like Doctor Who, says Association of School and College Leaders' president

School staff left "battered and weary" by the Covid crisis should look forward to a period of "renewal and growth" on the horizon, a headteachers' leader will say today.

It is time for the education system as a whole to "regenerate", to "finally lay to rest some of those long-standing problems that seem so obdurate", according to the president of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).

Opening the ASCL annual conference today, Richard Sheriff, who is also CEO of the Red Kite Learning Trust, will suggest that it is time to rethink our assessment and accountability systems, as well as elements of the curriculum.


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He will say that, despite an "inevitable sense of weariness" that many headteachers will feel, there is now "cause for great optimism".

"I am sure we are all familiar with the TV show Doctor Who and its ingenious plot device of periodically regenerating the Doctor. It allows for new actors to take on the famous mantle, and it also serves as a way of recharging the show," Mr Sheriff will say.

"Now is the time for the education system to regenerate – keeping hold of what is good but with a fresh determination to take the next step forward and finally lay to rest some of those long-standing problems that seem so obdurate, so difficult to solve."

Rethinking qualifications and the curriculum

He will suggest that things to "think of afresh" include our qualifications system – the "fragility" of which has been "brutally exposed" by the pandemic; and the current curriculum – and whether it gives "sufficient weight to contemporary concerns".

"As educators, we know that the curriculum is full to bursting, and that if you put something in, you have to take something out," he will say. 

"We also know that there is much that is great about the curriculum, that it represents an educational inheritance for the next generation.

"But it is also true that the curriculum is not a fixed body of knowledge, immutable for all time, but something which must change and flex in tune with a changing world.

"It feels increasingly that there is a job to be done – and that we, as the custodians of the curriculum, are the people who are best placed to lead on that work. This, too, is part of regeneration and renewal."

Mr Sheriff will also announce that ASCL is due to publish a "Blueprint for a Fairer Education System" in the summer. This will include a "series of clear proposals which allow us to build back stronger and better".

He will conclude: "There will sunnier days to come. Let's fight for a brighter future. It's time to regenerate."

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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