By Rachel Foster on 07 Jul 2022
‘Unprecedented times’ is a phrase that seems overused in last 2 years, but the education sector in this last week seems to be correctly using this description again!
The end of the summer term is traditionally a time that educators feel like they have been running back to back marathons. This summer term, I have seen so many leaders ‘running on empty’ as we have come at the ‘end of COVID’ - let’s not even go there, that’s another blog in itself, maybe entitled ‘COVID fallout for school leaders’ (or more likely you are still doing the COVID ‘juggle’ on a daily basis in your school?) I digress….
We have seen the return of SATs, with of course the annual failing of the SATs gateway and associated errors, also the return of Ofsted visits, as well as the publication of both the Education White Paper and the SEND & AP Green Paper, which were supposed to be determining the vision (or at least focusing the direction) of the education landscape for the future, together with a raft of DfE guidance and initiatives.
To me, future planning brings to mind the next 3-5 years at a minimum, perhaps even with an eye on further years ahead. But we are now finding ourselves in an academic year which has seen 4 Secretaries of State for Education: Gavin Williamson, Nadhim Zahawi, Michelle Donelan and now James Cleverly. As I began this blog the post was actually vacant?! This totals 8 Secretaries of State in 8 years. The actual impact of this turbulence is that a child who was in Nursery and is now just finishing Year 6 would have been educated in a system influenced by 8 Secretaries of State for Education.
So many have rightly commented on what would have happened if a school had changed headteacher 4 times in 1 academic year and the impact of this change / lack of consistency for pupils and staff alike, not to mention the other school stakeholders too.
By the time you read this I have genuinely no idea who will be heading the Department of Education, including the many Ministers who also seem to have vacated the building.
As we all know and appreciate, education is a complex sector, working alongside so many other agencies (NHS, police, social care to name just a few) and with so many pressures, expanding responsibilities and limited resources (the funding crisis, the recruitment & retention crisis, the attainment gap – it seems to be the perfect storm).
All of this whilst trying to provide the education and welfare for the children in your care – ironically the leaders of the future!
What is certain right now is the leaders in education that I have the privilege to know personally, work alongside and speak to since working in this sector, all have one thing in common - one thing they return to in their darkest times and moments of angst but also brings them their best memories and times of joy: putting children first.
It is why I love working in an organisation that focuses exclusively on the education sector, supporting all types of educational establishments. No matter who is at number 10 Downing Street, or for that matter which party, or who is the next Secretary of State, we at One Education will continue to support school leaders to educate and look after the pupils in their care and it is an honour to do so.
So, in these uncertain times (unprecedented once again), you can at least be certain of us, our commitment to the education sector, and our unwavering support in helping you with what matters most: #puttingchildrenfirst.