Weekly highlights: Mask anger and job interview clues

This week's round-up of news and features includes pupil premium anger, school trips and talking to students about BO

Tes Reporter

Weekly highlights: Anger over face masks in schools move and pupil premium funding

News

The week started with a big education announcement: Boris Johnson told the nation that, as of Monday next week, masks will no longer be required in secondary school classrooms, and that students will not need them in communal areas of schools or colleges. The relaxing of travel restrictions also means that schools will be allowed to organise trips with overnight stays.

The announcement on masks received a mixed reaction – at best – with the Association of School and College Leaders questioning why the government was pushing ahead with this when advice from its own scientific advisers was to keep these restrictions in place.

As we moved through the week, more concerns from school staff became apparent. By Friday heads were warning that schools had been “thrown under the bus” by the prime minister’s announcement, which left some teachers and leaders having to explain to parents why they were choosing to keep or remove masks from the classroom.

Teaching and school staff unions including the NEU, NASUWT and Unison have written to schools and colleges calling on them to keep a requirement for students to wear face masks in place until 21 June, following news of the so-called Indian variant "spread clearly occurring within schools and into the community all across England".

Another issue that has made news this week is the government’s controversial changes to pupil premium funding for schools. Wes Streeting, Labour’s new shadow secretary of state for child poverty, told Tes that education secretary Gavin Williamson will need a "crash helmet" when the true cost of the government's "grotesque" cut to school funding for the country's poorest pupils is revealed. One headteacher, in Bradford, said the loss in funding as a result of the change in the way pupil premium is calculated has meant his school could face redundancies, and a push to improve online learning access for disadvantaged pupils has been put "on hold".

There have also been developments over the cancellation of this summer's GCSE and A-level exams, and the work going on to award teacher-assessed grades. A group of multi-academy trust leaders have written to Ofqual warning that the way in which schools are being required to produce evidence to support the grades they submit demonstrates that the regulator does not trust the profession.

The school leaders also warned that they would not be paying exam board fees unless they receive itemised invoices so schools can understand what they are paying for – following the cancellation of this summer’s exams.

Features

With no exams taking place this summer, schools will be in the extremely unusual position this year of knowing which of their students have failed to get the grades they wanted. So how will they approach this, and spend the final weeks of term? Grainne Hallahan spoke to leaders to find out their plans.

Teachers undertake CPD throughout their careers, so why don’t they keep improving? We have a tendency to plateau when it comes to professional development – but reflection is the solution, says Mark Enser.

During a teaching job interview, there can be lots of tell-tale clues that give you an insight into what a school is really like and how it might be to work there. Kate Jones offers her guide to the key things to keep an eye out for.

We all know that the coronavirus has made the job of teaching a lot trickier, but all those remote lessons, Covid tests and teacher-assessed grades also bring with them complications relating to data protection legislation. Legal expert Daljit Kaur explains what heads need to know in order to ensure compliance.

It’s a fact that students sweat more when they hit puberty and, in some cases, the resulting smell can be unpleasant – and may even lead to bullying. To help a student tackle their BO, teachers need to broach the subject sensitively and explain how to deal with it effectively, says Simon Creasey.

The pandemic has made hiring a headteacher incredibly tough. But, as Jacob Moreton finds, leadership recruitment was already a difficult task, as selecting the right person is a fiendishly complex job of sorting the non-negotiable traits from the nice-to-haves. He asks a group of experts what attributes should be on the must-haves list for a good headteacher. (article free for subscribers)

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