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The Learning Institute

The Learning Institute

Nicolle's Diary #8: A different type of summer and a new term

As my extended summer break ends, I have been asked to reflect on the last couple of months and how I’m preparing to return to the new semblance of normal.

Firstly, my summer has not been much to write about. Certainly, last year I could boast trips to theme parks, museums and days at the beach. This year’s highlights consist of that one trip to Aldi and one socially distanced play date. I did however get the opportunity to meet with some of my fellow students at a local pub for a catchup a handful of weeks ago, to say I felt like I was in a post-apocalyptic utopia would be an understatement but we certainly had a laugh!

I have been sent some pre-module work to get through before returning to lectures in just over 3 weeks. I won’t lie that’s a task for next week when my two are back in school and I have a day off. However, I have started to prepare for my return to sessions. I thought I would be clever and decant all last year’s work and journals from five ring binders and five wallets into one extra-large lever-arch file. This was a space saving mission. Well I misjudged that! Two lever-arch files and a lot of squashing and restructuring later and I have saved absolutely no space! 

I return to my work placement in the local primary school on Friday, I think I am excited but equally nervous. I recall in my last module before the summer writing about the conflict faced in schools, between meeting the needs of the individual child and the standard’s agenda. As school staff wrestle with the mammoth task of helping to reintegrate pupils back into formal education and supporting their mental health needs, they will also be expected to test or assess these children so as to ensure they are caught up on learning missed effectively. On the one hand there is a duty of care for the wellbeing of pupils but there is equally an obligation to deliver the national curriculum at a now increased pace. I think of the now late Ken Robinson who said the role of education is to “enable students to understand the world around them and the talents within them”. I wonder what he would say to these children being tested in core-subject areas whilst all the creative learning they may have done at home gets discarded. As a parent I am angry but in my professional context I have nothing but gratitude and empathy for those walking this tight rope.