by Huw Lloyd
The coronavirus lockdown is currently changing how lots of us do many things: shopping, working, socialising and for many of our children, learning.
The lockdown has seen many young people being educated at home by parents or siblings or, as I wrote about in a previous blog, celebrities via free online lessons, providing a very different educational experience from what they are used to. They’re different in delivery style, even teachers will be delivering in a different style to their own children than if they had the usual class of 30 children in front of them, and they’d be very different in content too.
In previous years in schools, especially since the introduction of the EBacc, and before when more and more emphasis was placed on English and maths from SATs to GCSE level and beyond, children have seen their curriculum narrow.
With so much significance placed upon these subjects and the league tables they feed into, it is no surprise, and completely understandable, that these subjects have been prioritised by school leaders, giving more curriculum time to these subjects, prioritising when they are taught in the timetable and focusing on these subjects when it comes to revision time.
This is often at the expense of subjects perceived by some as less academic or important such as the arts, sport or vocational options. The other expense has been that of children’s mental health with now one in four young people being diagnosed with a mental health condition, of which in a recent survey 53% of teachers felt the “exam factory” regime currently in place in schools was contributing to this, through the pressure placed on children to succeed in those exams and assessments.
However education during lockdown has seen a move away from this, with schools sending work home promoting more creativity, problem solving and encouraging inquisitive minds. Yes there has been academic work sent too, but how it is to be approached is definitely different to how it would traditionally be taught in the classroom.
A more investigative approach has been prescribed, one which can be facilitated by non teachers, but also one which encourages children to work more independently and think for themselves. Research projects have filled the minds of our children, where they have been asked to explore topics, they have been asked to set their own questions and then discover the answers, for some children it has been a whole new and more enjoyable way to access education.
It has also seen them devoting more time to creative subjects such as art, sport, music and play, helped no end by a raft of inspiring online lessons from celebrities and experts.
The new Ofsted framework released last year now has a greater influence on curriculum and the strive for it to be broad and balanced. Has the current situation we find ourselves in pointed schools and other education settings in another direction?
When teachers and children return to schools, whenever that may be, will the children now exhibit new skills and new expectations on how they want to be taught and what they want to be taught?
Will teachers be willing to take more risks with how they teach and facilitate learning, will leaders look at and revise the curriculum their establishment is offering to promote a broader and more balanced curriculum?
Parents may also feel more empowered to make demands on schools as to what and how their children are taught, they will have experienced educating them at home and will now have a greater feeling of understanding when it comes to what their children want to learn and how best they learn. Whatever happens the curriculum and how it is delivered will not be the same post lockdown, of that I am sure.