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Strategy to help Greater Manchester schools as they reopen

02 Sep 2020

One of our experts is leading a recovery strategy to help schools in Greater Manchester as they reopen after the coronavirus lockdown

School child

The ambitious strategy, devised by Emeritus Professor Mel Ainscow, will seek to involve 1,300 primary, special and secondary schools across the ten local authorities in Greater Manchester. Drawing on lessons from his previous research on educational improvement, it will address major challenges facing schools over the next year as they support their students in returning to full-time education.

There is considerable concern about what will happen as schools reopen, and there are particular worries about learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. As well as the educational progress being made by these children and young people, there are concerns about their safety and welfare.

Coordinated by a small team of successful school leaders, it will pay particular attention to those who are vulnerable in relation to three intended outcomes:

  • Presence – ensuring that all pupils return to school and attend regularly
  • Participation – creating a climate within schools where all pupils feel welcome and valued
  • Progress – developing policies and practices that maximise the achievement of all pupils

At the same time, it is cautious in that it is designed in a way that will not add pressure on colleagues in schools during this difficult period.

The recovery strategy builds on the progress made as a result of the earlier Greater Manchester Challenge, which Professor Ainscow led. It also draws on the findings of ‘Reaching Out to All Learners’, a recent study carried out in Greater Manchester with the support of researchers from the University’s Manchester Institute of Education.

The Greater Manchester strategy will involve schools from different areas sharing ideas about how to improve the presence, participation and progress of all of their pupils. Promising practices that emerge from these discussions will be shared across all schools, via virtual and face-to-face meetings, and written accounts on the website of the Greater Manchester Learning Partnership.

A team of researchers from the Manchester Institute of Education will carry out follow-up investigations into these promising practices, linking their findings to international research regarding ways of improving outcomes for disadvantaged learners.

“Greater Manchester is in a particularly strong position to develop a collaborative improvement strategy,” said Professor Ainscow. “The tradition of partnerships between schools and local authorities that exists is a sound basis for the strategy we are developing. My hope is that our efforts will encourage similar developments elsewhere in the country.”

“We anticipate that further phases of the recovery strategy will be developed, based on the findings of what happens in the next few months - this will likely include greater attention to supporting schools serving particularly vulnerable groups of learners.”