This week’s post on International Education News features an email interview with Maureen McKenna, Executive Director of Education, Glasgow City Council. This is the fourth in a series that includes posts from Chile, from Japan, and from the Netherlands. The “A view from…” series editors are IEN’s Thomas Hatch and Karen Edge, Reader/Associate Professor in Educational Leadership at University College London’s Institute of Education.
In the interview Maureen McKenna discusses how the education service is responding to support families :
“In Glasgow, in normal times we have around 68,500 children in our primary and secondary schools. A further 12,000 are in our nurseries. Almost all closed on 23rd March 2020. We have kept some nurseries and schools open for the children of key workers.
“Our priority for Glasgow schools and nurseries was to ensure we remained connected – in a world where news bulletins were incessant in their spread of fear, raising the anxiety of all. Therefore, wellbeing, compassion and care had to be our focus – if we got that right then learning would follow.”
She explains how they are supporting learning:
“Phone calls, social media, Apps, STEM e-bulletins, and YouTube channels have all been used. Teachers have sent home lesson packs as well as “sensory boxes” for students with visual and hearing impairments. A partnership with the local city newspaper produces twice weekly two-page spreads with activities in math, in STEM, and other subjects to help families support learning at home, and some inserts into national news have all worked well – all with the consistent message of ‘we care’.”
And some of the issues they need to consider for the recovery stage:
“In our recovery plans, we are planning on how we use the nurturing principles which are so embedded in our everyday work to help us build the confidence of staff, parents and pupils to re-establish learning.recent events have been traumatic for even the most resilient of people – so it is critical that we take time to build resilience and think carefully about how we re-connect with each other, with children and young people and with families.
“We will all have to dig deep in the coming months drawing on our own resilience but I know that we will come back just as strong, hopefully with a better sense of community. I know our staff will rise to the challenge – it will not be easy but education is too important. We know that education is key to reducing the impact of poverty on people’s lives so we have no choice – our children and young people continue to deserve the very best we can give.”