Weekly highlights: Catch-up, longer days and resilience

Tes' round-up from the education world this week features Covid catch-up plans and the future of handwriting

Tes Reporter

Tes' weekly round-up: Longer school days, Covid catch-up plans and resilience

News round-up

This week many school leaders and teachers have been focused on what will be needed to help get pupils back to required learning levels following the appointment of a new national “catch-up commissioner” last week. Therefore what Sir Kevan Collins hopes to achieve – and what his remit will be – has been keenly anticipated. In an interview with Tes, he said that he will be independent of political interference, and hopes to secure more cash to ensure that schools are properly resourced to help the most disadvantaged pupils catch up.

Meanwhile, as we wrap up a half-term under lockdown, government data has shown that the number of critical workers' children in school has surged by 45,000 in the past week, meaning schools are having to juggle resources to ensure that pupils in school and those learning from home are taught and supervised.

In more upbeat news, we learned that the majority of teachers are feeling positive about delivering remote learning and feel they have got to grips with remote teaching in the current lockdown, with almost two-thirds saying they are coping either OK or better.

This is especially encouraging news since many teachers say they are experiencing a decline in behaviour. Tes reported that more than two-thirds of teachers said pupil behaviour had worsened since the Covid pandemic began – and a third said it had worsened “noticeably” or “hugely”.

Meanwhile, an unexpected consequence of the pandemic and the move to remote learning is schools being exposed to fraud. Tes reported this week that, following news that around £400,000 had been stolen from an academy trust by fraudsters posing as a building firm, schools are now being warned to tighten up their IT security “as a matter of urgency”, as fraudsters look to exploit any weakening of internal controls during lockdown while staff are working remotely and “procedures may have slipped”.

Away from the coronavirus crisis, the sector learned this week which schools have been chosen by the government to act as new Teaching School Hubs around the country. The government says the new hubs – which will get an annual budget for three years – will serve all schools’ teacher training and professional development needs in their local area.

Features round-up

We all know that too much screen time can wreak havoc with our bodies, from eye strain to back ache to the occasional feeling that your head might just explode. Could screen-free Fridays be the answer? One school decided to give it a try – and the results speak for themselves.

The idea of lengthening the school day to help pupils catch up may sound logical – but history shows it's not that simple. So do extended school days really work when it comes to improving learning? Dan Worth looks at the lessons from experiments around the world.

With so much learning taking place on computers during homeschooling, a lot of young people are getting out of the habit of putting pen to paper. So, what does this mean for the future of handwriting? Chris Parr explores.

As thoughts turn to getting students back to school and back to learning, Gohar Khan asks how we should be talking to young people about resilience after the pandemic. With pupils adapting to this crisis in amazing ways, do we need a new approach? 

Many people who have Covid can find themselves suffering from long-term effects. So schools need to consider the support they offer returning staff experiencing long Covid, says one former school leader.

A promotion to the senior leadership team will undoubtedly test your relationships with close staffroom colleagues but when the dynamics change, you have to adapt, advises Adam Woodward. So how do you stay friends with colleagues whom you now manage?

As teachers, we like to think that if we can just persuade our students to put a little more elbow grease into their work, they will reap the rewards in terms of their learning, says Amy Forrester. But are we wasting our time asking for more effort?

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