It’s been nearly a year since the pandemic first closed the doors of schools to the majority of pupils in a way that no one could have ever imagined. Pupils, parents and teachers around the country are waiting to see when all pupils will be allowed to return to school after the latest lockdown and what has been an incredibly tough start to the spring term.
The return to school will inevitably bring with it new challenges for a number of reasons including an increase in mental health issues, uncertainty about grades and future prospects (for some cohorts), issues surrounding online safety and cyber-bullying, concerns about catching up and the likelihood that some pupils will SEND may struggle to re-adjust to being in a busy school environment again. This may result in an increase in behaviour issues and complaints from parents.
There is no quick fix for these issues but we would encourage schools to reflect on how your existing policies could be updated to better equip your staff to deal with issues which might flow from the unique times we are living in. Is your behaviour policy up to date and does it give you the flexibility you need in these current times to act fairly and lawfully? Are your staff familiar with your processes for supporting pupils with SEND, including circumstances when they are exhibiting challenging behaviour? Is your admissions policy for sixth form compliant or will it leave your school exposed to challenge if you receive a large number of applications this year? These are just a few examples of some of the issues to think about and we invite you to contact us if you are reviewing your policies and you would like a second opinion about whether your policies are legally compliant and help to facilitate the effective running of the school.
We will continue to monitor these issues over the spring and summer terms and will provide an update in the summer term about what’s working well and the steps we will be recommending to help schools remain legally compliant.