Batley head teacher's hope pupils will now be back for good

A Batley head teacher doesn’t believe cutting the summer holidays or extending the school day will help students catch up after the Coronavirus lockdown.

By Martin Shaw
Thursday, 11th March 2021, 3:19 pm

Ms Sam Vickers, head at Upper Batley High School, said such a blanket approach wouldn’t work.

Ms Vickers was speaking as students at the boys’ school returned to the classroom for the first time in nine weeks following the third national lockdown.

As at all high schools year groups were being tested for Covid-19 as part of a staggered return.

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Head teacher Samantha Vickers at Upper Batley High School, Batley

Ms Vickers said “blended learning” online had gone well as staff and students adapted but help would be available for any students who needed it.

“The worst thing we can do when students walk back into school is do lots of tests and assessments, we need to get them back in and settled into their routine,” she said.

“The staff will then carry out some diagnostic work to see where children are up to and, naturally, they will be in different places.

“I know of one young man whose mother had him at his desk in full uniform at 8.30 every morning but it won’t have been like that for every child.”

Ms Vickers said there would be help for those students who needed it. “Extending the school year or lengthening the school day won’t improve standards overall,” she said.

“It’s no good having a blanket approach, we should trust teachers and be much more child-centred and work out what an individual child needs.”

During the pandemic the school has taken the opportunity to improve its buildings, investing £1m on repairing the leaky roof and revamping the gym. Another £700,000 will be spent on phase two of the roof work this summer.

Scientists believe infection rates could rise as schools go back and, like other heads, Ms Vickers hopes this is the final lockdown.

“We have three weeks to Easter and then a two-week Easter break which could act as a bit of a firewall,” she said. “It’s a shame that teachers weren’t vaccinated first but we understand the rationale.

“Let’s hope we are back for good. Home-learning is great but you can’t beat the interaction with a teacher in the classroom.”