The trigger for this programme was 18th March when the Government announced that every school was effectively closing until further notice (with the exception of a small number of pupils) due to coronavirus pandemic.
The programme was designed with two complementary foci. These were:
- To support all staff with strategies to cope with the challenging situation of school closure and support them to prepare for the huge challenges of re-opening a school following a long period of enforced closure. This strand of the programme was entitled, ‘The Uncertainty Principle’.
- Work with leaders at all levels to focus on developing capacity to raise performance in their teams through effective learning. The lockdown provided a unique opportunity for leaders at the Academy to engage in slow-thinking. Reflecting and analysing key areas that had previously not been fully explored due to operational busy-ness.
The most obvious initial challenge was that up until its’ closure, the Academy had run exclusively face-to-face and there was no culture of online learning. Therefore, choosing an online platform that was easily accessible, as well providing the opportunity for ‘safe’ dialogue was key. In addition, the facilitation of the sessions needed to build trust for open dialogue.
‘The Uncertainty Principle’ was delivered as a series of one-hour sessions with small groups. This ensured the sessions were dialogic and ‘safe’ for staff to share the challenges they were facing. The strategies shared, aimed to support them both professionally and personally to deal with the ongoing uncertainty. The sessions ran most days for six weeks.
The Academy carry out a regular anonymised staff survey, and the most recent findings was that 100% of responders felt proud of how their school had been led during pandemic lockdown period. This was amongst the highest rating across the schools in the multi-academy trust chain that the academy is part of.
What the judges said…
Accrington Academy has worked in partnership with cultural education charity, Curious Minds, to develop and financially support The Uncertainty Principle. Curious Minds is Arts Council England’s Bridge organisation for the North West. This strong working partnership has enabled resources to be directed to support staff training so they are best able to support themselves, each other and the students through these uncertain times.
Finalists in other categories
Congratulations to all the finalists making a such difference in challenging times.
Details on the full list of categories and finalists are available here: