Leading Harrogate teacher's views on end of bubbles in schools and concern over impact of new guidelines

A Harrogate teacher who was recognised in the Royal Honours for 25 years of service in leading roles in education has been talking about the difficulties schools face as guidance gets set to change again as part of the final stage of the Prime Minister's roadmap on July 19.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 3:07 pm
Updated Monday, 12th July 2021, 3:10 pm
Janet Sheriff, who received an OBE for services to Education in the last New Year's Honours List, said, although teachers were, on the whole, happy to see the end of bubbles, the complexities of the evolving situation with Covid precautions were likely to result in new confusion.
Janet Sheriff, who received an OBE for services to Education in the last New Year's Honours List, said, although teachers were, on the whole, happy to see the end of bubbles, the complexities of the evolving situation with Covid precautions were likely to result in new confusion.

Janet Sheriff, who received an OBE for services to Education in the last New Year's Honours List, said, although teachers were, on the whole, happy to see the end of bubbles, the complexities of the evolving situation with Covid precautions were likely to bring new confusion, in particular over contact tracing and self isloation in classrooms.

Mrs Sheriff said: "I think all school leaders are relieved that the restrictions of ‘bubbles’ are being removed. It means that pupils will be able to mix with others not in their class or year group, and will see the return of many enriching pupil experiences that have had to be put on hold for the last 18 months.

"The timing of the lifting of restrictions is frustrating (the very last week of term), so many schools are keeping current risk mitigation measures in place because it would cause too much disruption to introduce new routines for the last five days of the academic year.

"It will be interesting to see how the arrangements for track and trace work after responsibility shifts the NHS (rather than school leaders) from the 19th of July.

"I’m worried that the last week of term will bring a lot of confusion about arrangements, especially for parents – contact tracing will still take place and pupils may still be asked to self-isolate if they are deemed to be a ‘close contact’, but instruction for this will come from the NHS rather than the school. It is only from 16th August that self-isolation for close contacts under the age of 18 will end."

Currently executive headteacher at Prince Henry’s Grammar School in Otley, Janet Sheriff, has worked in school leadership, including a number of inner city schools, for more than 25 years.

Her CV in education is deep and wide-ranging and includes taking on the role of an Ofsted Inspector, as well as chief executive of the Collaborative Learning Trust

In addition to the National Leader of Education role, Janet is passionate about increasing diversity of school leadership and has worked for more than 10 years to make a difference in this area – including as Chair of the Yorkshire and Humber Diversity Steering Group, Chair of the Yorkshire and Humber Women Leading in Education Steering Group, and leader of the Lancashire and West Yorkshire Equality and Diversity Regional Hub School on behalf of the DfE.

Married to Richard Sheriff, who is executive Headteacher and CEO of Red Kite Learning Trust in Harrogate, in 2009 Janet Sheriff was the first ever BAME secondary headteacher to be appointed in the city of Leeds and the first female headteacher in the 400+ year history of Prince Henry’s Grammar School. In 2018 she led the creation of Collaborative Learning Trust.

Mrs Sheriff said she expected teachers to have a lot of work to do in the days remaining in the current term and in the weeks leading to students' return to school in September.

Janet Sheriff said: "The last few days of term is going to be another exceptionally busy time for school leaders planning for September, using the updated DfE guidance for schools, which was published just last week,

"This is especially true for secondary schools. Most have had to scrap original plans and start again because of the requirement to carry out on-site asymptomatic testing of all students before they return to school our start of term.

"It is a shame that for our new Year 7 students this will be their first experience of secondary school."