Schools to remain open throughout Easter holidays
Although most schools across the UK are now on Easter holidays, they are expected to remain open for vulnerable pupils (those who have a social worker, a child protection plan, or those who are looked after by the local authority) and the children of key workers to attend.
Easter holidays 2020:
Easter holidays England and Wales – Mon 6 April - 20 April.
Easter holidays Scotland - Mon 6 April - 21 April.
It is thought that schools providing skeleton services are catering for around 10% of their usual pupil numbers. Where take-up is low, local authorities have been planning ‘hub’ schools where resources are pooled and children and teachers, within a 3-mile radius of a ‘hub’ school, attend the ‘hub’, rather than their own school.
Free school meal provision extended to holidays
When schools closed on 20 March, a national free school meal voucher scheme was launched, enabling the 1.3 million children that are eligible for free school meals to continue to access meals whilst at home.
Originally, the UK Government had announced that the national voucher scheme would only run during term time and not during holidays. However on Saturday 4th April, this was amended and the vouchers will now be available throughout holiday periods.
Teachers are to decide on GCSE and A-level grades
All exams due to take place before the summer holidays were cancelled in March and teachers and students have been waiting to hear more about how this will affect their grades and their progression into the next academic year.
Last week, Ofqual published further advice on how grades would be determined for GCSEs and A-levels. Teachers will be required to submit the grade they think pupils would have achieved if they had taken the exams this summer. This decision will be based on classwork, mock exams, and the school’s previous results data. Teachers will also be required to provide a list of students ranked in order of expected grades to assist with the moderation process. The information has to be completed by teachers by 29 May and results will be released no later than they normally would in August.
Safety for teachers on the frontline
Amid calls for more personal protective equipment (PPE) to be made available to frontline healthcare workers, schools have also commented that suitable equipment is essential for teachers who are still teaching in schools across the country.
Teachers are playing a crucial role in the national effort to tackle Coronavirus by providing care for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. However, if a large number become sick and are required to self-isolate, schools could quickly find themselves unable to safely provide these essential services.
The classrooms producing essential PPE
There have been multiple reports of teachers across the country pressing school equipment including 3D printers and laser cutters into service and producing hundreds of units of protective equipment for NHS workers from their classrooms.
Concerns regarding school closures
Schools fear an increase in inequality as some students will struggle to access their education.
Teachers have raised concerns that a huge number of students lack access to technology, let alone reliable WIFI, and therefore those from already disadvantaged backgrounds are at greater risk of falling behind. The latest annual report from Ofcom, published in December 2019, revealed that just 10% of UK households now have access to full-fibre broadband, up from 6% last year. A lack of suitable space for pupils to work from will compound this issue, as pupils living in cramped accommodation are likely to struggle to work effectively from home.
Teachers and charities have also voiced their concern for vulnerable pupils. Despite schools remaining open for vulnerable students, their attendance is not mandatory and there are concerns regarding students at risk of abuse within their own homes. As pupils will now be spending extended periods online, the NSPCC has also issued warnings of the increased risk of online abuse.
BBC online education push
The UK Government published details on its website that the DfE has been working closely with the BBC and various other partners “to provide advice and support directly to parents, including online resources they can access for their children at home.”
Starting on 20 April, the BBC will be updating BBC Bitesize with new content on a daily basis which will be accessible via BBC iPlayer, red button, BBC Four, and BBC Sounds. The BBC Director General Tony Hall called it "the biggest education effort the BBC has ever undertaken."
Outdated school IT systems pushed to the limit
The Association of School and College Leaders has said that the uneven provision of technology across the education sector should be a wake-up call. Schools across the country are having to rely on outdated technology and poor IT infrastructure to continue teaching pupils remotely.
So, what does all this mean for your edu-marketing?
Every business, big and small, has had to adapt quickly to this pandemic with both the changing needs of employees and customers in mind.
- As daunting as it might be to get the tone and messaging of your edu-marketing right during this period, it’s still crucial to keep your audience and customers informed and up to date regarding how your business is adapting and handling operations during the pandemic.
- Your marketing to schools will have to highlight flexibility and adaptability as key selling points to appeal to schools that might be hesitant to commit to any purchase at a time of uncertainty.
- Any hint of profiteering from a crisis is likely to be deemed highly insensitive. However, if your business is in a good position to be able to help teachers and schools during this crisis, don’t be afraid to use email marketing to reach out and share a solution.