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The return to school - are teachers ready?

The return to school – are teachers ready?

29th May 2020

After several challenging months of virtual lessons and constant uncertainty, schools are finally preparing to reopen. The government has announced that primary school students in reception, year one and year six will be the first to return, on 1st June. Other classes are set to follow – but what does this mean for teachers and school safeguarding?

At our recent virtual roundtable on school safeguarding, our panellists discussed the implications of schools returning. We wanted to get a better idea of what teachers thought about it too, so we asked them. And, we found surprising results.

Are you ready for the return to school?

Teachers face a pair of monumental tasks: They must help students catch up to where they are supposed to be after months of lockdown and ensure that they are safe and healthy at a time when even many adults face significant stress. Our survey found that nearly two fifths (37%) plan to reduce curriculum focus as students return to the classroom, while just over a third plan to offer extra classes and tuition (35%) and extra homework (34%). Even as in-person teaching can begin again, nearly half (48%) of teachers plan on continuing to supplement it with virtual lessons via video conferencing.

Over a third of teachers (36%) say their school is not prepared to reopen in early June and nearly a third (32%) say they will purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for themselves. Two thirds (66%) of teachers who responded to the survey intend to teach children about Covid-19 in addition to explaining the new safety measures.

School safeguarding has also suffered under the lockdown, as more than half of schools began the lockdown period with an offline safeguarding system. Nearly half of teachers (47%) report that they intend to speak to parents to understand family circumstances, while a similar number (46%) plan on seeking advice from the government. Four in ten teachers (42%) reported that their school urgently needs to review the technology it uses for safeguarding, which is almost as many as believe online learning content (46%) and digital classroom management (44%) need review.

Our survey also found that teachers have worried about the return to school. The most common concern (at 44%) was that students might struggle to maintain social distance, while a third of teachers (33%) worry that the new maximum class size of 15 students will harm attainment. Meanwhile, over a fifth (12%) of teachers reported that their primary concern was reintegrating students from a behavioural perspective.

At Impero, we understand the inextricable link between attainment and school safeguarding. However, teachers cannot focus on either attainment or safeguarding if they are not assured of their and their students’ wellbeing. As a country, we owe so much to our teachers, and it is unacceptable that they aren’t being provided with adequate PPE or a clear plan before they return to work. Impero stands with teachers: It needs to be safe for everyone to return to school.

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