The half term break presents a rare chance for staff to pause and take stock of a highly turbulent first term for education in 2020/2021.
Schools are currently serving as a critical hinge point in keeping our society and economy running. During rising child food poverty and the free school meals debate, school leaders have endured months of guidance and policy changes that required overnight responses. Many students have faced long stretches away from the classroom, with huge potential impact on their long-term wellbeing and understanding of the world. According to Unesco, 90% of the world’s children have seen their education disrupted by the global pandemic.
What do we now need to keep in mind when faced with classes who may spend the rest of their lives labelled as a ‘lost generation’?
Below, the former Primary and Secondary teachers who staff Prospero’s Training and Development team look ahead at the future of education. Our interview with the team includes reactions from several Head Teachers and leaders of the schools that we support.
What are the Likely Long-Term Effects of Covid-19 on Schools, Teachers and Students?
In 2020 schools have endured more scrutiny than ever before: schools remaining open and running at full capacity is crucial for industries and communities to function. We could never have previously imagined the school closures suddenly implemented in spring and summer this year. With attendance figures significantly lower than usual, the effects of Covid-19 on education are likely to be long-term and far-reaching.
Optimists feel that schools could emerge from this crisis in a stronger position than before, with a renewed sense of pride and purpose in the profession, which could attract more high quality teachers into the fold. Others may fear more policy changes and uncertainty that continues to push schools to their limits.
“Our staff have actually asked with dismay, ‘What school closures?’. The media portrayal often didn’t match with the reality of schools battling on providing education for children of key workers. Our message to parents is not to worry: we’ll get all our children to where they need to be, despite the challenges. It’s what we’ve always done.” – A Primary School Head Teacher
How Could the Roles of Teachers Change in 2021?
In recent years, schools have incorporated greater awareness of pupil circumstances when managing behaviour. The ‘zero tolerance’ approaches of the past will be further transformed as schools attempt to support the wellbeing of their students as holistically as possible.
Sadly, we can reasonably predict that the youngest generations living through Covid-19 will experience significant personal traumas and difficulty managing their emotions in the future. Kindness, building stronger relationships and utilising restorative practices could become integral to the expectations on all school staff, in terms of both behaviour management and wider pastoral support.
‘More than ever, we have to look at the emotional causes rather than just the behavioural symptoms in our pupils. We have students who have had their futures thrown into uncertainty and experienced very troubled home lives in lockdown. Our duty of care means we need to go above and beyond simply expecting students to react to a simple rewards and sanctions behaviour policy.‘ – A Primary School Head Teacher
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In Addition to the Effects of Covid-19, What Other Challenges will Schools and Teachers Face in 2021?
Bridging the attainment gap between children from richer and poorer backgrounds has always been one of the biggest challenges in education, and reports suggest that students from disadvantaged backgrounds could lapse further behind due to Covid-19. With some students having missed upwards of 20 weeks in school this year, significant efforts will be required to prevent the gap from widening further.
‘Getting all our students to make excellent progress in their education is always at the forefront of our minds, and is the challenge we strive to face. We focus on keeping our students safe, happy and motivated to learn.‘ – A Secondary School Head Teacher
Will Covid-19 Create Any Positive Outcomes or Opportunities for Schools or Teachers?
Some argue that in recent years the teaching profession has not always received the respect it deserves, and the UK’s mammoth teacher shortages are no secret. With the profile of education and healthcare professions on the rise and with a greater variation in support roles required to help students catch up on missed learning, we are hoping to see higher numbers of graduates entering the profession and keen to make a difference. Many experienced professionals are expected to consider moving into education from other industries, whereas those who have previously left education may look to return.
How Will the Relationship Between Schools and Recruitment/Training Agencies Change in the Near Future?
Strong relationships between schools and recruitment agencies have never been more important. At Prospero Teaching, we are dedicated to supporting schools and staff throughout and beyond the pandemic. Take a look at our permanent, contract and supply vacancies.
We would welcome the opportunity to help schools with their recruitment needs. Our teams of consultants have 20 years’ experience in sourcing and supporting the best teaching staff, and are passionate about helping schools, teachers and students in 2020 and long-term.