Schools could move parents’ evenings online and older pupils may be given greater flexibility to learn from home even after restrictions have lifted.
The coronavirus pandemic has seen a number of school events – including nativity plays and open evenings – become virtual to reduce the number of interactions between pupils, parents and staff onsite.
After months of remote learning due to school closures over the past year, parents are keen for in-person lessons to resume.
But some schools are looking to embrace some virtual tools in the future.
Online parents’ evenings and governors’ meetings could become the new norm after the pandemic, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), has suggested.
Some schools are considering continuing a reduction in pupils’ movement during break times to improve behaviour and create a calmer environment.
Mr Barton told the PA news agency: “There are some things which schools have traditionally done which they are now doing differently, which I think will become the norm.
“Online parents’ meetings have been quite a hit with quite a lot of parents because instead of the days of queuing up as if you’re in Stalinist Soviet Union to get your five minutes with a teacher, actually having an appointment with that teacher and being able to talk to them about how your child’s done that has been really effective.
“I think there’s quite a lot of leaders who could see that as being part of a future mix where you are actually doing it through Zoom or Teams calls, or whatever it might be.”
He added that virtual parents’ evenings have ensured that every family receives the same allocation of time and it has allowed parents to have “a more confidential conversation” in the privacy of their own home.
Schools are likely to have a “more blended” approach” to learning in the future, Mr Barton said.
Sixth-formers could be given more flexibility to work from home if they are struggling to travel into school, while school consortiums could look to offer some A-level courses to pupils online, he added.
The proposals for how schools could look post-pandemic come as this week marks a year since the first coronavirus cases were reported in the UK, and the anniversary of the first known death in the country.
When secondary schools fully reopened in the autumn term, following the introduction of year-group “bubbles”, many headteachers reported good behaviour among pupils, according to Mr Barton.
Matt Hood, chair of governors at Bay Leadership Academy in Morecambe, said the secondary school is considering keeping year groups in different zones of the school site to encourage calmer behaviour.
He said: “Previously it was organised in a way where pupils moved around a lot. Now it’s organised in a different way – pupils don’t move around a lot and teachers move around much more.
“Those logistics changes mean we just don’t have this big disruption every hour in the day with 1,000 children moving around the site. We have a much more controlled, calm, school environment within the school day.
“I think there’s lots of schools that have seen the benefit of that and might stick with it.”
Mr Hood added: “We may not keep the whole thing but there are certainly some features that we think are really helpful. Our lovely Year 7s are very much more like lovely Year 7s than by this time in the year when they have realised that maybe they’re going to turn into Year 8s or Year 9s.
“It’s been lovely to keep them a bit younger for a little bit longer.
Virtual parents’ evenings are also on the list of changes that the school is looking to keep as participation rates have increased among families who may have previously struggled to attend the events in-person.
Mr Hood, principal of Oak National Academy, a Government-backed virtual school set up amid Covid-19, said: “Some parents are nervous about coming into school. They didn’t have a great experience. They don’t really like it.
“This is something that I think the odd school may have experimented with in the past, but I suspect will be a much more wholesale change.”