On April 3rd 2020 Geoff Barton wrote an article in the TES, “When schools return it will not be ‘business as usual’. At that time the thinking was that probably schools would not re-open in September and there was conjecture about what would happen to accredit students due to sit GCSE and A Level exams.

I sent a proposal to the Ministers at the DfE and Professional Associations that if schools, and universities were to re-open in September/ October that they might  make the autumn term the missed summer term.  My reasoning is that the autumn term is roughly the same length as the summer term. Public exams etc. could be held in late October / November. The benefits are that students could take the examinations they have been preparing for and, for those hay fever sufferers for whom we annually sympathise, then this problem would not exist. Universities could also do the do the same, but at no extra fee.

The knock-on effect would then be to completely re-set the academic year to be the calendar year. Universities could start a little later to cope with the time it takes to validate public examinations. The school year would have to be examined in order to move away from the Agro- religious pattern we have. Easter could be a long weekend. The summer holiday could be shortened to maybe a month, perhaps aligned with Scotland? Historically August is a pretty poor month weather wise, so a “term 3 “could start then. Other longish holidays could be created to ensure teachers get the rest they so vitally need.

Most businesses shut down over Xmas, so if this were to be made compulsory, nationally in the wake of the current situation I am sure it would assist family time, and whilst I would not suggest a lockdown, perhaps a period of rest and calm would also help clean up the atmosphere.

However, the UK Government wants English Schools to begin a phased re-opening in June.  Some schools have never been closed, but from the preparatory pictures I have seen our youngest children will be returning to classrooms which look horridly bare and uninviting places for learning.  

We talk of the “new – normal”. I believe we had a chance to create a new normal in terms of how we manage the school year. The chance is now gone.

Published by askrichardarts

Recently retired (September 2019) after a 42 year career in Music and Arts Education I am an experienced arts educator specialising in school leadership and all aspects of arts education but with particular expertise in music and music education. From 2011 - 2019 I was Music and Arts Strategy Manager in South Gloucestershire leading the South Gloucestershire Music Hub, Arts Council England’s preferred provider of Music Hub activities in South Gloucestershire. Always regarded as a minor risk organisation it provided teaching and ensemble activities to over 4000 children a week and many ensembles achieved national recognition at the Music for Youth Proms and National Festival. From 2005 to 2011 I was National Specialist Coordinator for Performing Arts and Music at the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust effectively a national adviser on arts education contributing to many national initiatives e.g. Music Manifesto, Musical Futures, Henley Review of Music Education, and Building Schools for the Future. I also provided curriculum support and professional development to over 600 schools in England and in 2010 gave a keynote speech on Music Education in the UK at Gifu University in Japan. The bulk of my teaching career was at Richmond School in North Yorkshire where I led a highly successful Music Department with over 300 students a week learning musical instruments and large classes at GCSE and A level. I commissioned a number of works for School Wind Band by composers such as Bill Connor, Adam Gorb and Philip Wilby and developed UK and Worldwide commissioning networks to commission works by Christopher Marshall and Marco Putz. As an adjudicator I have worked throughout the UK, in the Netherlands, Australia and the USA and Canada. In retirement I am a Trustee of the Music Education Council ,Independent Chair of the Music Hubs in Somerset and Torbay , and a doctoral student at the University of the West of England.

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