I wrote this piece for SchoolsWeek on behalf of HTRT in December 2019: Great Expectations or Bleak House?. I had just begun my maternity leave and had managed to squeeze in a moment of reflection amongst tying up loose ends and preparing for baby number three.
At the time, as I mused over the language that characterised education that year and penned my professional hopes and wishes for the new one, I couldn’t have imagined that we were on the precipice of a global pandemic. I had no idea of the scale of the challenges that we were all about to face, nor the fact that I would be returning to lead a school in lockdown in April 2020.
The HTRT’s response to the Department for Education/ Ofqual’s Examination Replacement consultation has been produced by a dedicated team of people, alongside their roles as school leaders. As is now our standard process we have attached a word document copy so other school leaders may use it as a basis for submitting their own response, if they so wish. The deadline for submitting a response is Friday 29th January 2021 at 11:45 pm.
Put simply, there has never been a year like it! Over the past nine months school teachers and leaders have been experiencing discontinuous change like never before. Keeping schools open for key workers and then all pupils amidst a pandemic; creating new structures and systems around bubbles; online, blended and face to face learning (sometimes simultaneously) and forming an integral part of the national track and trace system. There was no leadership module, in any of the national professional qualifications, on “Leading through a Pandemic” and no-one with experience to call on.
Previous Minister for Schools, David Laws once said “often I would ask which organisation was responsible for resolving a particular problem in education, only to be told: ‘Don’t worry, Minister – it’s no longer the DfE. That is now a responsibility of the School-Led System. They will be delivering it.”
We all knew that A Levels had not been sat. We knew that there would be an assessment system based upon an algorithm utilising past performance and a rating system. At Barnhill middle and senior leaders assiduously poured over sophisticated assessment systems, investigated quality of books, moderated their conclusions in departments and with Senior Management and finally agonised over rank order of the students. What we were not aware of was just how blunt an instrument this algorithm would turn out to be. Continue reading