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Introduction

Over the last eight days, we’ve been sharing some great ideas to help you plan short and long term strategies to boost pupils’ learning, support all staff across your school and free up more Child-Time this academic year.

With the second national lockdown now underway, we know that most of your time right now is focussed on meeting social distancing requirements, ensuring learning continues – either in class or online – and simply running your school well during the pandemic.

So, over the next couple of days, our focus will be on providing ideas to help you navigate your school through these challenging times.

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1. Maximise the Covid-19 catch-up premium

Start a whole-school discussion

Make sure you save hours of planning time by involving teachers and staff across your school in the decisions being made on where the catch-up premium should be invested.

Teachers know their pupils better than anyone. Include them in the planning of how to use the premium to give them ownership of the process. Ask them what their top three priorities are and how they can plan to achieve them – you’ll quickly get an idea of where to focus time, effort and money for maximum impact.

The Education Endowment Foundation’s Guide to Supporting School Planning: A Tiered Approach to 2020-21 will then help you take the next steps. It offers a simple framework to help structure your plans into three key areas:

  • Whole school teaching
  • Targeted academic support
  • Wider strategies

2. Invest in staff

Teachers want to spend as much time as they can with their pupils, but this is certainly not the moment to forget about your staff’s professional development needs.

Be creative with CPD

Look for professional development opportunities that fit around teaching and learning and are delivered remotely so that teachers don’t have to travel. Online courses are a great option. We run a number related to managing the Covid-19 pandemic and using the catch-up premium, which may be of interest.

Arrange tea and cake meet-ups

It can be just as helpful to provide opportunities for staff within bubbles to come together more informally – lovely if it can be for tea and cake too. They can use this time to chat about effective ways to motivate pupils and support their wellbeing, as well as share techniques that have and haven’t worked.

With the right mix of offline and online CPD, you can find a cost-effective way to ensure everyone from new teachers and TAs to your subject specialists and SENDCos get the support they need to help every child reach their full potential, despite the additional pressures on their time.

3. Create an environment that encourages a love of reading

A recent report by the National Literacy Trust and Puffin shows some really positive trends in children reading more (up by 35%) and enjoying reading more (a 28% rise) during lockdown than was the case before.

Research also indicates that the longer children hold on to an enjoyment of reading, the greater the benefits are in the classroom. 10-year-olds who enjoy reading, for example, have a reading age 1.3 years higher than their peers who do not enjoy reading and this gap increases as they get older.

It’s not a news flash that reading opens the door to the whole curriculum and develops pupils’ knowledge and vocabulary.

Take half an hour out of your day to walk around your school to check how reading-friendly the environment is. Focus especially on book corners and your library space – are your pupils making good use of them? Offering appealing spaces to access and read books tempts even the most reluctant readers.

Get some inspiration from the Book Trust on making school libraries fun, safe places to be during Covid-19.

Make sure teachers have access to good quality resources too.

Here are a couple of ideas from us:

You can arrange one of our Primary English professional development staff meetings too, which can be delivered virtually by experienced English teachers.

Expected results

This is an academic year like no other and your school will be doing things very differently for some time yet as we continue to weather the storm of Covid-19.

By investing your school’s catch up funding in initiatives that are effective and ensuring teachers have the skills they need to drive progress forward you can make the most of your Child-Time across the school.

If you would like to understand how Juniper can support you further in this area, please provide your details below and we will be in contact.

Kathryn Day

Kathryn Day

After leaving behind careers in the wine trade and archaeology, Kathryn Day has worked in various education roles across both primary and secondary for nearly 20 years. She’s been a secondary ICT teacher and subject leader, a local authority computing adviser, a local authority school improvement adviser and a primary school deputy headteacher. Kathryn is Director of Training and Development at Juniper Education.