by Cheryl Lacey, ©2021
(Jun. 2, 2021) — Most parents and school leaders have the same desire: to ensure children’s needs are matched with the best possible teaching.
Victorians are in yet another lockdown. School education has been disrupted once again for more than 1 million children.
The same disruptions continue in the USA and other parts of the world.
Stress, a decline in mental health, disengagement and underperformance will follow.
We do not have to accept this situation.
Every school has a council or board responsible for establishing the broad direction and vision of its school.
If current decisions compromise students and families, teaching and learning, then the need for change is paramount. And now!
A little more than 2,260 schools are in Victoria. That means there are 2,260 autonomous decision-making bodies with the authority to do things differently. Imagine the figure if we included schools internationally. They can all ease the pain.
Here are a few examples of how school councils can adapt, to cope with lockdown:
1. Adjust term breaks. Lockdown days could become holidays for the entire school community
2. Stagger annual leave. Students could have school holidays while teachers could choose between professional learning or annual leave
3. Introduce shift work. Schools could operate 7 days per week, from 8am to 8pm
4. Expand remedial work. All teachers could work onsite, to teach students who are below expected levels in English and Mathematics. Students at or above appropriate levels in these subjects could work independently on self-directed choices
5. Offer optional pre-recorded lessons – e.g. on Zoom.
We need to understand that teaching and learning are not restricted to ‘school hours’ (eg: 9.00am – 3.30pm).
No school council should expect families to adjust their lives to suit this current inflexible schedule.
Families have the right to say, ‘This is not working for us’.
If you, or people you love, are trying to juggle home-school-work-family life, you can begin the movement for change.
Here are three things you can do right now:
1. Write to your school council president. Request an extra-ordinary online meeting for a community forum. Capture innovative ideas for managing lockdown.
2. Share this newsletter.
3. Email me for ways to get support from parents and teachers
Let me make this very clear: your voice and your right to seek change are not limited to lockdown conditions.
Hours of school operation are currently inflexible. Now is the time for radical and necessary change.
Your family life is your business. Don’t allow anyone to tell you otherwise.
Marching Schools Forward: Discussions on the Direction of Australian Education
(now available at Connor Court Publishing)