Schools are ever changing entities. New students every September; new staff arriving throughout the year; new directives from the Government and new trends emerging from society and the world at large. Trends are interesting. When we think of trends we often think of fashion and music and even technology. Looking back at photos I'm sure we've all said to ourselves things like: 'Why did I think that looked good?!' or ''Did I really go out with my hair looking like that??'. Likewise with music. Some of us have kept our record collections (a good move by the way as vinyl is definitely back) and looking at the bands and the artists we do have to question our taste sometimes. I'm a child of the 80's and I'm going to say that it's not my favourite decade, musically speaking, but each to their own of course. With technology, the Nokia 3210 was on trend in 1999. Remember 'Snake'? Remember the iconic ring tone? Then came competition from Motorola with the Razr. What a phone that was. Then came Blackberry, the toy of the city slicker. Then came... I think you all know. But trends are not always material things. Social media and streaming companies now use the phase 'trending now' to highlight what people are talking about or binge watching with a view to attracting more people to their streams. 'Trend' is on trend.
In schools, trends come and go like fashion and music. In the early 2000s, the trend was Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs). Schools went crazy for them spending hundreds of thousands of pounds to install them in every classroom. All that money and not a shred of evidence that they brought about better academic progress or achievement. A few years later, a well-respected study showed that IWBs had no impact on learning and many of them were replaced by simple, wipe-clean whiteboards at a fraction of the cost. Another trend in education was iPads being 'the answer'. Some schools went all out and issued an iPad to every student and installed Apple TVs and screens in their classrooms. No impact. The key to success in schools is not technology, it is people and partnerships. It is teachers and TAs and support staff and governors and parents working together to achieve the best outcomes for our major stakeholders: our students.
I refuse to label our students (or any young people for that matter) the lost generation. They are not lost. But they do need our help now more than ever before. If they are to have the best possible chances in life there needs to be seismic shift away from this notion of being lost and a move towards systematically and calmly addressing the deficits that have opened up. Everyone has a part to play. There is no school in the world that will not be working at full capacity to address educational gaps in the coming months and years. And the gaps will be significant after such a long time out of school. But the key, as we have always said at LECA, is never giving up. If you're a parent reading this, your part is huge and we need your help. Your children will have moments of crisis and we all need to put our arms around them and focus them towards always doing their best. If we all do that, they will win. They will come out of this with the best life chances and choices open to them. They will have fair access to the world on equal footing with their peers. It is up to us. Trends come and go and likewise we will agree and disagree about how best to educate - everyone has a valid opinion. But the most important aspect of all of this is keeping the children front and centre of everything we do. We need to buck the trends. It's good to be different after all.