Alice Barnard is Chief Executive of the Edge Foundation

Nobody could have predicted the effect the pandemic would have on our lives.

Indeed, nothing has challenged the status quo quite like it.

Over the past 18 months, we’ve faced huge trials and witnessed incredible resilience, not least in our education sector.

Despite the cancellation of exams, an overnight move to virtual learning, and an ongoing mental health crisis, schools, teachers and parents around the country have stepped up to the plate.

Last year, Edge released a report exploring the impact of covid-19 on education. Today, we provide an update.

With time to reflect, and with insights and case studies from across the educational landscape, our second bulletin provides a more optimistic read.

It focuses on ways in which we can improve the education system, using valuable lessons learned during lockdown.

Reading it, I feel hopeful that the resilience and innovation we’ve seen over the past year will prevail against voices calling for a return to the old ways. 

Ongoing hurdles

In discussing opportunities, we cannot ignore the challenges. 18 months into the pandemic, attainment, engagement and inequality have emerged as some of the most pressing issues.

According to Dr Angela Donkin, Chief Social Scientist at NFER, attainment and engagement have modestly improved in secondary schools since the start of lockdown.

However, NFER’s research also suggests that around a quarter of children are still not engaging with their learning.

More worryingly, the attainment gap has widened faster for children eligible for free school meals than for those from more advantaged backgrounds.

The theme here is consistent.

Paul Newton (Research Chair, Ofqual) highlights how secondary school students with poorer home learning circumstances, i.e. limited access to technology or study space, have found it harder to learn.

In short, learners from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds have been worse affected by the pandemic.

In the short and longer-term, this inequality gap must be urgently addressed.

Careers education: A mixed bag

Emily Tanner, Head of Research at The Careers & Enterprise Company confirms that the pandemic has hurt workplace learning and apprenticeship opportunities. Fortunately, despite a reduction in face-to-face employer engagement, there are silver linings.

Careers leaders, employers and activity providers have collaborated in unprecedented ways to produce novel approaches to careers engagement for young people, incorporating personal guidance, careers learning within the curriculum and virtual study visits.

There is plenty to learn here as we move forward.

Better parental engagement

Lockdown resulted in what can only be described as the single largest experiment in parental engagement that schools have ever attempted. As any parent knows, this was not without its challenges. Nevertheless, according to John Jolly, CEO of Parentkind, the percentage of parents worried about their child's education has significantly reduced since the pandemic began.

Crucially, this appears to correlate with parents’ growing confidence in supporting learning at home. Almost two-thirds of parents polled stated being more aware of what their child was learning. And as with employers, online engagement (such as virtual parents evenings) has allowed parents to engage with schools and teachers more easily.

Tackling youth unemployment 

Post-pandemic, unemployment is expected to surge, with young people bearing the brunt.

Naomi Clayton 100x100

Naomi Clayton from the Learning and Work Institute highlights government measures that may mitigate this impact.

James Turner 100x100

This includes things like Kickstart and incentives for employers to take on apprentices.

James Turner, CEO of the Sutton Trust, suggests extending both the Pupil Premium and the National Tutoring Programme beyond the age of 16 and expanding targeted support for disadvantaged young people in apprenticeships.

However, Naomi believes these initiatives are not enough on their own. She says a government Youth Guarantee is the only way to ensure that all young people who are not employed or in education have access to a job, apprenticeship, or training place. 

Leveraging technologies to support learning catch up

Louise Rowland (Deputy Chief Executive, Ufi) champions the power of digital technologies to improve skills for work. Digital tools, she says, will help overcome a rise in youth unemployment that’s heavily skewed towards those from Black and Asian backgrounds.

As we seek to re-engage pupils in schools, we must also embrace mobile devices, which provide the lowest barriers to learning access.

Collaborative learning platforms and gamification could also boost motivation and learner outcomes in the longer term. There is much more on this in the report.

Policymakers: take note!

While shockwaves from the pandemic continue to ripple, they’re no longer the disruption they once were. The pressure is now on policymakers to formally strengthen the best innovations from the pandemic and engrain these into a reformed education system. 

As our latest bulletin shows, there has been fantastic creative thinking during lockdown.

Arguments for a return to the old ways are dying. Only policymakers can formalise what we now know works, ensuring that we build back better. I encourage everyone to download the full report "Covid-19 on Education – Perspectives on The Impact of Lockdown".

Alice Barnard is Chief Executive of the Edge Foundation

You may also be interested in these articles:

Adaptations for 21-22 and beyond - #FutureOfAssessment Episode 3

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page