The brave new world of remote learning

by Louise Young
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It's been less than a week since almost all children have been sent home from school. Despite little warning, and overstretched resources, teachers have yet again pulled another miraculous rabbit out of the hat, seamlessly and without fuss, putting in place provision for lessons at home.

Clearly these are early days and worries remain about ensuring that the most vulnerable children continue to benefit from effective education. However first signs are that children are displaying their usual resilience and ability to adapt and acclimatise to their new circumstances.

Often in challenging times it can be easy to focus on the difficulties and miss the unexpected but positive outcomes. COVID-19 has provided the mandate that requires every teacher, pupil and parent in the country to finally get to grips with digital education - the delivery, the engagement, the monitoring and the feedback.

But perhaps the most important shift, which could have far reaching consequences, is that parents have been given a crash course experience of beginning to understand what teachers are expected to (and do) deliver every day.

There has been a realisation of the hours of lesson content planning which can be consumed within minutes and that delivering even half a day of lessons is like feeding a beast with an insatiable appetite. If it's a nightmare to keep two or three children on the straight and narrow then how on earth do teachers do this with a class of 30? This of course without anyone breathing down your neck to provide assessments and reports, prepare assemblies and extracurricular activities, and with Ofsted looming at the door.

There is much talk at the moment of frontline services, perhaps it's time for everyone (Government included) to wake up to the service that teachers provide and (lest we forget) remember that many of them are still in the classroom teaching the children of NHS workers.

Is this then the zeitgeist to begin a new way of providing education that continues with the spirit of cooperation and collaborative working? Digital platforms allow for it and given accessibility on every device (even mobile phones) it can help to improve communication between school and those who care for children. This in turn has a measurable impact on learning outcomes.

When we all come out of this it might provide the final impetus for a move to a solution which cuts out the hours of unnecessary time teachers spend on admin, monitoring results and providing reports. It may also help parents to understand the benefits of better engagement with teachers and the satisfaction and improved outcomes for their children of a real 'partnership'.

There is of course also a great opportunity for children to spend time acquiring more traditional skills. As parents look for ways to fill the long days - cookery, crafting, gardening and housework are all back on the curriculum. All of which could provide a timely and necessary reminder of the value of a broad curriculum and not one pared down to core subjects. It's important that we use digital assessment to record these achievements too.

Post COVID-19 the world will never be the same again, however we may have all learned some very useful lessons for the future.

Thank you for everything that you do – we have not overlooked the important part schools are playing in helping Britain survive this crisis and it won’t be forgotten.