Results day and back to school – reflections from the past year

It’s been another incredibly challenging year for the teaching profession and I hope you’ve managed to take a well-earned break over the holidays.

In the run-up to results days and the start of term, we share a few reflections and themes from the last year as well as some of your feedback on how we’ve done in supporting you along the way.

The impact on wellbeing and mental health

Did you manage to prioritise your wellbeing last year? If the answer is ‘no’, you’re not alone. With the additional workload of assigning grades for students, managing parental expectations, grappling with technology and remote teaching there wasn’t much time for anything else. While our recent LinkedIn poll showed that 38% of our followers chose movement/exercise as their favourite way to unwind, only 4% found time to try a new hobby. Hardly surprising, you might say.

Like you, we are driven by the desire to bring out the very best in every student. So we want to say a huge thank you to each and every one of you for working so hard to achieve this for your students.

You can find a wealth of support and wellbeing resources here, including webinar recordings, how to measure wellbeing and a toolkit to share with parents.

Getting back on track

Everyone involved in education – teachers, students, parents and school leaders – have faced the most incredible challenge over the last 18 months. Most schools, though not all, have returned to face-to-face teaching but wherever your school is in the journey back to the classroom, there is no doubt that the transition will need some managing.

Students’ experience of Covid-19 has differed dramatically, depending on their access to technology, personal circumstances and aptitude for remote learning. Getting all of those students back into the same classroom is an important part of giving them all an equal opportunity to fulfil their potential.

However, to do this, we need to fully understand how Covid has affected them, and their learning, on an individual basis.

Remember the Teacher Toolkit webinars we ran in April to help you provide grades for your students? In October, Teacher Toolkit returns with a series of ‘Back on Track’ webinars, which will explore how you can:

  • help your students manage the transition back into a normal academic year cycle
  • establish where your cohort’s strengths and weaknesses lie after the disruption of the last 18 months
  • develop effective exam technique for students who have may have missed out on sitting live exams.

Registration for these webinars will open in September and we will be in touch then with all the details.

The relationship with your exam board

The pandemic has demonstrated the need to have a supportive exam board offering clear, concise and timely communications. We are proud to have supported you through the May/June 2021 series and have been delighted to read the positive feedback from OxfordAQA schools around the world.

“OxfordAQA have been absolutely fantastic over the pandemic.”

Making the decision to cancel exams early gave schools and teachers time to adapt and prepare which was appreciated, as well as the extensive consultation with our schools. Making this decision was not something we wanted to do, but we knew it was the fairest solution for students.

“There was clarity that they were going to be aligned to the UK whereas other boards haven’t done that, and I felt that was important for giving students parity with those in the UK who they would be competing with for places in universities.”

With teachers facing information overload we summarised all the key points into a concise ‘weekly memo’. Over 90% of teachers found this a useful resource along with our online Teacher Toolkit, including assessment materials that helped to inform grading decisions which were widely used and highly rated. Overall, 78% of you rated our support 4 out of 5 or higher.

“With the timetabling and delivery of the webinars, they are spot on. They are just in time for the skills for the things we need especially with determining the students’ grades.”

“Every single detail was covered in the webinars and instructions published and it was all in a timely manner.”

We are proud to have carried out ‘virtual visits’ for all our schools this year, giving them a chance to ask questions about the grades submission process. 94% rated this visit at least a 4 out of 5.

While there were a few things we could improve on (and we’re working on these right now), overall we were delighted with your feedback and pleased to have been able to support you through another tough year.

Thanks again for everything you do.

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