Some clarity over what 'face-to-face' support in years 10 and 12 might look like

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
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My son wouldn't attend, the home learning has turned out to be amazing and he has learnt so much ...

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Some clarity is emerging over just what expectations the government has of secondary schools when and if plans to re-open schools roll-out from June 1.

Much of the national debate has focused on primary schools re-opening from June 1, but Department for Education (DfE) guidance published on Monday (May 11) makes clear that ministers are also asking secondary schools to open their doors for face-to-face sessions with year 10 and year 12 pupils.

The guidance states that the DfE “will ask” secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges to “offer some face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 students who are due to take key exams next year”.

Speaking after discussions with the DfE on Wednesday (May 13), Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said that he is envisaging something akin to academic review days, whereby year 10 and 12 students have the chance to meet face-to-face with their teachers to gauge progress, next steps and to help teachers to plan learning going forward.

In an update to members on Wednesday (May 13), Mr Barton said: “We have had a bit of clarification around what the notion of face-to-face learning for year 10s and year 12s might mean and this came from a discussion at the DfE yesterday and some more work this morning.”

He said the focus would perhaps be on year 10 ahead of year 12 given that there is more flexibility built into the A level curriculum.

He explained: “The most important thing we really need to do with small numbers of young people in year 10 is initially to have an honest conversation with them, saying … what work have you done in my English lesson … which bits can you do, which bits couldn’t you do. What are you stuck on?

“That notion of starting with an assessment of where the child is, because as teachers what we’re then going to have to be able to do is to plan what the curriculum will then look like and what resources and materials we could give to those young people to start building up their knowledge ready for when we get back into formal learning – that seems to me pedagogically really important.”

He continued: “If the proposals are akin to that, that becomes incredibly useful for the young person, very useful for the teacher who can assess where they are, but it also means that things like social distancing become more manageable.

“That’s not the same as bringing all of year 10s and year 12s back in and trying to have some semblance of business as usual. I think there is something in that – where we take the government’s ambition and make that work in the interests of the child and the teacher.”

Speaking to SecEd on Wednesday (May 13), Mr Barton added: “There is an opportunity to do something quite important for these children (in year 10 and 12) – to recognise that if you are in the middle of your GCSEs and A levels, you really need someone who can honestly assess where are you up to in your course.

“What is envisaged for year 10 and 12 is something akin to that. A sense check. Students coming in in very small numbers at a time and having that contact with their teachers.”

The DfE says that years 10 and 12 have been chosen because these are the students “preparing for key examinations next year, and are most at risk of falling behind”.

The guidance document – Actions for educational and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from June 1 – adds: “From June 1, we expect that secondary schools and colleges will be able to offer some face-to-face contact with year 10 and year 12 pupils. This will not be a return to full timetables or pupils back in school or college full-time, rather some support to supplement pupils’ remote education.

“In line with implementing protective measures and reducing contacts, schools and colleges should limit the attendance of the year 10 and 12 cohort in the setting at any one time and to keep students in small groups.”

  • DfE: Actions for educational and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from June 1, May 11, 2020:
  • DfE: Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings, May 11, 2020:
  • SecEd: Outdoor lessons, smaller classes and one-way systems from June 1 – but no masks, SecEd, May 12, 2020:

Hi Peter
I read your article with optimism and myself wanting the best outcomes for children. In my role as DSL and SENCo I have a very priveledged insight into the skills of talking and listening to young people. I believe that the relationship between a child and teacher needs to be open and honest and some children have unfortunately not had self motivation or even the digital devices and set up to maintain a positive experience during Home Learning. Some children will find it a challenge, with communication skills, and therefore appropriate adjustments will need to be made to ensure the dialogue is achieved with the necessary information to enhance and embrace their learning potential. During this crisis, the school where I work has offered emergency provision since the 19th March and despite our professional and personal efforts, the attendance at school for children whose parents are keyworkers or who are assessed as vulnerable have not attended as we would have liked across all years - some with very reliable reasons.
Preparing for "normal" school return does not exist currently and if the use of face to face conversations with year 10 enables a step or steps forward then it needs embracing by all stakeholders involved in the educational profession.
I do fear that Year 10 children, in some areas of England, may never return to school and that will be an educational disaster.

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My son wouldn't attend, the home learning has turned out to be amazing and he has learnt so much and more through this new way of learning
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