National survey uncovers teachers' top 3 concerns in the staged return to the classroom

Tuesday, 01 September 2020 | Written by Rachel Panther, Managing Director, PrimarySite

A survey of 62 Schools from across the UK was carried out in July by PrimarySite (the UK's largest supplier of educational websites) to uncover the main challenges facing teachers in the staged return to the classroom, and some of the positive long-term outcomes.

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Respondents were made up of Head Teachers, Principals, Senior Leaders, Governors, Office Managers and HLTAs, from maintained Schools and Academies, to Special Schools, Multi Academy Trusts and Teaching Schools.

When asked what was proving hardest about the staged return to the classroom, the top 3 responses included:

  • The ever changing government advice on social distancing
  • Managing children's anxiety and wellbeing
  • Sourcing enough PPE equipment, including hand sanitiser, social distancing graphics etc.

The survey also uncovered how new methods of teaching had created many positive outcomes for both pupils and staff, such as the increased use of video and blogging technology, setting and submitting homework via the School website (rather than book bags and notebooks) and an increase in parental involvement in teaching - all of which were changes the respondents said they would like to incorporate into their Schools long term.

"Covid has forced us to be more creative with our communication and boosted our confidence in using our website"

88% of respondents agreed that the pandemic had forced schools and teachers to be more creative with their communication and boosted their confidence about using their School websites.

Kirsten Howarth, Exec Head Teacher, Weldon C of E Primary School took part in the survey and commented:

“In amongst the worry and uncertainty that Covid19 brought, Weldon Primary School found some unexpected slithers of a silver lining. Relationships between parents and staff have blossomed and virtual communication has enabled a surprising amount of dialogue and support. Our teams developed remote strategies to continue to deliver a solid education, in addition to reviewing and developing a new progressive 3D curriculum ready for launch in September.

Finally, the determination of staff to find different ways of working led to increased usage of our learning platform and website – both of which were invaluable in supporting learning. As we return, we will continue to embrace creative solutions to meet the Covid requirements, whilst still ensuring quality education and pastoral care for all.”

Rachel Panther, MD at PrimarySite said,

"We work with over 4,800 Schools and Academies across the UK providing websites that make it easy for them to stay in touch with their community safely and securely; understanding their key challenges and how they're coping with changing teaching methods is therefore vital.

One of the key learnings from the survey is that School websites have enabled teachers to work with parents and pupils to keep creative during the closure and that the majority of homework will be set this way moving forward.

The government directives on home learning place great emphasis on the use of digital & video technologies to facilitate home learning methods and strategies that drive parental involvement and engagement. The insight gathered in this survey therefore enables us to support these guidelines by providing ongoing support to Schools, developing improvements to our website technology and enhancing Schools online learning methods and capabilities to provide a better experience for staff, pupils and parents.”

Lastly, the survey asked Schools whether they were prepared for the Government's extended catch-up plan which aims to help children in England who have missed out on months of School amid the coronavirus lockdown.

53% of respondents advised that they did not feel prepared for this, with many citing similar concerns around the lack of guidance on funding and its implications, and that it was too early to say.

Those that had already started to think about potential 'catch-up plans had various ideas about the measures they would put in place; some of these included: focussing on core subjects rather than foundation, assessing where the children have gaps and using intervention groups to teach the required skills, online tutoring and teaching the end of the previous year's curriculum before advancing onto the new year curriculum.

PrimarySite helps Schools and Trusts to communicate with their key audiences. We build websites specially designed to meet the needs of Schools and Trusts, provide strategic advice on branding and marketing, and provide a host of School communication tools to help with parental engagement.

PrimarySite was founded in 2002 by teacher Geoff Millington and his wife Rose, who was a web designer. The company was born from their combined passions for helping to improve the way schools operate and creating websites that are easy to use and manage. PrimarySite has grown from a home-based enterprise to a socially focused business and we now work with more than 4,700 Schools and Multi Academy Trusts.

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