8 Things for Primary Subject Leaders should consider as schools re-open

This blog has been written by Focus Education’s Associate Consultant, Tim Nelson.

When the papers and news channels announced that schools are reopening in March, it would have been nice if they had acknowledged that they never actually closed. We all know they have been open for more and more vulnerable children and children of key workers since the first lockdown, but hey ho, never let the full truth and nuance get in the way of a good (or bad) headline…

As schools return to some normality, subject leaders will further develop their roles and consider how they can return to their original roles, impacting outcomes in their respective subjects. I have been fortunate to continue working with subject leaders across the country during the past 12 months, so for what it is worth, here are some suggestions for areas of focus once the dust settles. I have not listed obvious things like identifying lost learning and assessing pupils, but instead, I tried to list some more detailed areas that might be useful for reflection.

Early Years

Consider EYFS and pupils who will be moving into Y1 in September. What has been the past year's impact on the youngest pupils, for whom home learning could have been problematic given their lack of independence? Are they ‘KS1 ready’, and how might the curriculum and provision need to be adapted in your subject?

Refresher Training

Will colleagues need refresher training in your subject? If there was training and support just before March 2020, will that have been remembered and embedded? There might be a need for reintroduction and reminders. Don’t assume everyone will remember a 10-minute staff meeting presentation about Art from February 2020 given what has happened since then!

Website Information

Is the curriculum information on the school website up-to-date? Schools are required to publish curriculum overviews for each subject for every year group. If changes have been made to long-term plans in your subject due to ‘lost learning,’ have these been updated online?

Moderating and Evaluating

When can you begin monitoring and evaluating again? Of course, this will depend on restrictions being lifted, but it is still worth having a clear plan developed in consultation with senior leaders.

Home Learning Outcome

What has worked well in terms of home learning and remote learning in your subject? This could be useful in the future for schools that provide homework. Schools will be developing contingency planning for any future school closure, or to support pupils who might have to be off-site for any reason.

CPD Needs

What are colleagues' CPD needs? Senior leaders will soon be making decisions about staffing starting in September 2021, and colleagues might be moving year groups and need support in teaching a particular subject. At the very least, subject leaders must ensure colleagues are familiar with the planning overviews, subject resources, and end-of-year expectations.

Your CPD Needs

What are your own CPD needs? As a subject leader, you need to keep abreast of the latest developments, and it is also useful to seek out best practices from other schools. This is especially relevant in the current situation, as all settings deal with the aftermath of the pandemic and the ongoing issues arising from it.

Subject Action Plan

Is your subject action plan up to date? Considering the year of disruption, it would be miraculous if everything was still on target for completion and all your milestones had been met through 2020 and into 2021. Action plans must be revised, maintaining that crucial balance of being challenging yet realistic.

As for me, I will be dusting off the satnav as I get back on the road, visiting schools, trying to figure out how to put on a tie again and remembering I really must wear trousers for work after a year of Zoom…


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