Like many other organisations across the UK, schools are facing an incredibly challenging time at the moment.
Headteachers and other school staff members continue to do a fantastic job supporting pupils during these difficult circumstances. It’s not easy, given the fact that the Coronavirus is still very much an evolving situation, with advice being constantly tweaked and updated.
If you’re feeling somewhat out of your depth at present, we thought it would be useful to share some advice for dealing with COVID-19 as a headteacher.
Read up on guidance
The Gov.UK website is proving to be an incredibly useful resource for school leaders. The DfE has created a series of publications on the back of the pandemic, which offer advice and support to school leaders, teachers and other educational bodies.
How your school deals with Coronavirus
A must-read for heads is COVID-19: guidance for education settings. This contains advice on things such as:
- coronavirus symptoms
- dealing with someone who develops symptoms on site
- steps to limit the spread in educational settings
- cleaning and waste
- tools to use in education settings
It states in the guidance that Public Health England is responsible for working with headteachers and the Local Authority Public Health teams to advise on the management of children, pupils, students or staff within the school.
NQT enrollment/induction periods
Thinking about teacher recruitment this year, you might be wondering about the implications of COVID-19 on NQTs.
This new guidance from the DfE recognises that the outbreak is expected to have a profound impact on NQT absences. As such, the DfE intends to change regulations to make sure that any absences related to Coronavirus don’t count towards the typical ad-hoc absences of 30 days or more that automatically extend the induction period.
It notes: ‘Headteachers and appropriate bodies should continue to judge whether a NQT has met the Teachers’ Standards upon completion of the induction period, which for most, will be the end of the academic year.’
It advises heads and appropriate bodies to recommend an extension if there are concerns a NQT has not achieved the required standards by the end of their induction period.
Contacting the DfE
If you’ve any concerns related to specific guidance, or have a general query, you can get in touch with the DfE via its specific Coronavirus helpline. The number is 0800 046 8687 and lines are open from 8am to 6pm in the week, and 10am to 4pm at the weekend.
Maintaining your recruitment strategy
It’s possible to push forward with your recruitment strategy even if you’re not at school. Take a look at our recent blog, ‘COVID-19 – continuing school recruitment’ for some advice.
General tips for head teachers
In times like these, it can be helpful to turn to our peers and find out what they’re doing to cope. Speaking to Education Support, headteacher Darren Morgan shared some of his tips for facing this challenging situation – they include:
- Be human. Accept that you won’t be able to solve many of the queries raised by your school community. That said, people will be looking to you for leadership and guidance, so offering a listening ear can provide a great deal of reassurance to those who have faith in you to hear their worries.
- You can’t read it all. It’s a case of ‘information overload’ at the moment. For your mental health you should try to filter the information you receive, accepting that it’s impossible to take on all news related to the pandemic and its implications for your school.
- Switch off. Give you and your loved ones time off every day by turning off (or at least muting) notifications and devices. You risk burnout if you don’t – it’s important not to neglect your mental wellbeing.
- Strike the balance. As children, parents, staff and governors turn to you for guidance, regular communication can help to put their minds at ease. But don’t communicate too frequently, as a lot of small (and sometimes contradictory) messages can actually end up confusing people.
- Be honest. Being honest about the fact that you’re equally as unsure in these uncertain times, but you’re trying to make the best choices for your school, shows parents that you're human and can help earn their support.
- Plan for the future. This current crisis is likely to lead to challenging times in terms of school finances and mental health. While it’s hard not to be swept up in the ‘now’, you should start to consider these future issues and the strategies your school may look to put in place in to deal with them.
If you’re a headteacher and you have some tips of your own for dealing with COVID-19, we’d love for you to share them with us. In the meantime, if you want to find out about how Eteach can support your recruitment efforts during the pandemic and beyond, get in touch today.