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WFH, Week 52!!!  Can you believe it!?! This week it will have been 1 whole year since we were sent home to work.  I remember ‘elbow pumping’ in the car park on that Monday evening telling our colleagues that we would see each other in a few weeks’ time.  Who would have thought we’d still be here and that things would have potentially changed forever in terms of how we work?  I’m not sure how I feel about the one-year anniversary to be honest, a little sad I think.  There have been some benefits to come out of working from home – no more busy commute to the office, no more stressing when there was traffic and worrying about being late, saving money on petrol and lunchtime coffees.  The lack of social contact with colleagues has been hard at times but we’ve really tried our best to remain in contact.  We wish each other ‘Good Morning’ every morning on Teams as we would do if we walked into the office and we have a weekly team meeting and occasional coffee breaks together.  But nothing replaces the spontaneity of office conversation and everything now has to be planned.  However, there are some positive signs of spring emerging out of the winter gloom.  Snowdrops and daffodils are appearing, vaccinations are being rolled out and students are slowly, cautiously returning to school.

Primary school children and years 7-9 are being re-introduced to schools across all UK nations and are learning how to socialise (distantly) again.  Seeing friends and finding their feet will be great for their well-being. Year 10 students are having to pick up their GCSE courses that they started in September whilst teachers work on a recovery curriculum for them and think about what 2022 may look like.  The focus for year 11 & 13 students in schools and colleges is now to try and provide evidence for their Centre Assessed/Determined Grades and they have approximately 10 weeks left to do so.  GCSE and A level results days have been moved to slightly earlier in August and both in the same week which is a first.  Hopefully there will be a fantastic week of celebration that week.  Year 12s will be starting to think about University and researching courses, universities and entry requirements and this is where our HE Advisers come into play. We are available every day via the UniBuddy platform to answer any questions that potential students may have.  We have never been more easily accessible which is another positive to come out of this situation.

Schools and Colleges continue to work their way around the ever-changing situations that they find themselves in regarding the curriculum, student well-being and lateral flow tests! We continue to watch, listen and offer support wherever we can.  We anticipate their needs and try to produce materials, resources and workshops that we know fit in with their usual school calendar and anything else they will find useful and helpful.  This last term has seen us producing campaigns and materials on KS3 Options, Careers, Student Finance and British Science week.  Our communications with schools and colleges has also increased through a variety of platforms and to a wider audience.  Our communications are now so far reaching that we are starting to hear from and work with schools and colleges further afield that we have never worked with before.  Another positive!  So, as you can read, I’m trying to find the positives in the current situation but I have to be honest, I can’t wait to go back into a school/college for real and to have visitors back onto our campus. Nothing beats the live interaction but there are definitely elements of this new way of working that we will take with us, especially when trying to reach further out!  Whether we will return to an office environment remains to be seen.                                                

Next time – Returning to normal??

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