Education and the way it is delivered has seen upheaval during the pandemic, and one of those working in the sector has told how the efforts of staff to help pupils and their parents.
Angela Wotherspoon, 51, is quality improvement officer, and is currently working at the Laurencekirk Learning and Childcare Hub.
The hub is supporting children of keyworkers and vulnerable youngsters in the area.
Angela has worked in education for more than 25 years in a variety of different roles, and has been a quality improvement officer for 15 months.
Although pupils across the north-east have been logging on to lessons from home, a number of childcare hubs are open across the region.
As part of her role, Angela, who is from the Stonehaven area, has been working hard with staff across Aberdeenshire Council to ensure that all pupils are able to access education.
Speaking of how her job had changed since the start of the crisis, Angela said: “My work has changed in that it was reactive at the start of the lockdown. It has been challenging to co-ordinate an entire cluster to work from one base, but I have been really impressed by the flexibility and “can do” attitude of staff, to meet the needs of parents and young people.”
Angela’s job involves her supporting the Laurencekirk and Banchory cluster of schools to deliver their learning and teaching ambitions by encouraging professional development and engaging in school improvement plans.
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Speaking of the challenges of working in the current climate, she said: “I think that every day has been a school day, in that we were all learning about the different challenges, fears, anxieties and hurdles involved in the new ways of working.
“The changing landscape with regards to digital learning and not seeing all of the people that I work with, face to face has been something to get used to. I think that the advances we have made in digital learning will help teaching, learning and assessment moving forward.
“I have really enjoyed working at the childcare hub and have made myself available to support the staff, parents and pupils as much as possible.
“I have been very impressed with the work that teaching and education staff have undertaken and continue to develop currently to support pupils at this time. There is a lot of excellent practice from class teachers, that has allowed me to facilitate excellent learning and teaching within the hub, to ensure continuity for the pupils.”
Speaking of what she misses about her daily working life, Angela said: “I miss going into schools, working alongside colleagues and pupils in schools and seeing the excellent practices in learning and teaching to bring about improvement. I have been working hard with a range of staff across the authority to ensure that all pupils are able to access education.”
And she praised younsgters for their ability to acclimatise to the changes to their lives brought about by lockdown and the virus.
She said: “I think that pupils have adapted and continue to adapt well to the changes. The young people who are attending the childcare hubs are engaging well in a range of meaningful learning and leisure activities.
“We are working to support pupils at the childcare hub with their emotional wellbeing, as many of their parents are frontline workers. We are working hard to develop positive relationships, to then build a climate where they feel that they can learn. We have also learnt many new skills, from gardening to building go carts and spotting mini beasts. We have done a lot of baking too!”
Angela added: “I think that the role of education is really crucial at this time of huge change. Pupils need to know that staff are available to help them and that their learning is still ongoing, even as everything else is changing.”
Speaking of how she has found lockdown, she said:”I have found that the world a very different place and that we need to be much more mindful of everything we do. I think that this a time to recalibrate and reflect and to be kinder.
“The world outside of work has slowed down and it lovely to see the cycle of nature and to spend more time with my family.
“This experience has probably been one of my most challenging in over 25 years of education. I think that I have learnt a lot about people and how they and I cope in a time of upheaval.”