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Unity Schools Partnership CEO Tim Coulson is seeing a positive change in schools

A month into the New Year and what would be our biggest wish for 2022? I think most in the education sector would simply want a stable calendar year ahead, dare I say ‘normal’.

The start to this year has so far had some similarities with the last two pandemic-dominated years.

The numbers of children and staff testing positive for Covid are the highest we have seen and the impact of self-isolation has brought daily challenges around staffing numbers.

Dr Tim Coulson, chief executive of Unity Schools Partnership.
Dr Tim Coulson, chief executive of Unity Schools Partnership.

That said, green shoots of optimism are certainly emerging. Schools have begun to rehearse for productions, school trips are again taking place and meetings and visits to schools are being carried out face-to-face rather than via Zoom. These are the ‘normal’ things I was referring to.

Once the half term break is over and we say goodbye to January and February, we all hope that spring will herald even more positivity in and out of the classroom. Our staff and students, and everyone connected to our schools, certainly deserve that.

After two years of cancelled public examinations, our secondary schools are back to focusing on exam preparation.

National exams are going ahead this year for the first time since the pandemic began and this week exam boards published information about what to expect from this year’s GCSE, AS and A-level exams.

Of course, we are pleased with any additional support given to students sitting exams this summer, following the last two years.

And I know staff throughout our schools are working tirelessly to ensure students are as best prepared as possible to achieve the grades their hard work deserves.

The other big educational headline recently was the publication of the Government’s levelling-up white paper.

Suffolk was identified as one of 55 areas in England where education needed further support and we welcome any plans that improve teacher pay and retention.

As with all such announcements, we will wait and see what they actually mean in practice.

We also welcome the further support for action research announced by Suffolk County Council for the most vulnerable children in schools and are volunteering to take part.

As with the headlines around the rise in the cost of living, society is now having to deal with the effects of living through a pandemic.

Education is no different and we need to all pool together and do everything we can for our students, both now and in the future.

n Unity Schools Partnership is currently consulting on plans to reorganise four schools in Bury St Edmunds. Find out more and please share your views via https://consultationbse.unitysp.co.uk/ before Thursday 17th February.