How can schools and colleges prepare for teaching in 2020/21?
The OECD has published ‘How the Covid-19 pandemic is changing education’ which collected data and feedback from 59 countries. This is my summary of the recommendations…
To assist education leaders in those efforts the OECD and the Global Education Innovation Initiative at Harvard University have collaborated to obtain and analyse information on the education conditions faced in 59 countries.
From what I can decipher, we are far from out of the pandemic, and teaching and learning online is very much here to stay. It would wise for schools to prepare for this, as well as teachers to consider their professional development.
I’ve taken a look through the 62-page report and have shared a summary of the recommendations in the following checklist to help schools and colleges plan a degree of continuity in the second phase of the pandemic.
No matter how challenging COVID has been, the OECD writes that the coming years will be even more challenging. School leaders need to prepare their institutions for more rapid change and greater volatility
2. Learn from the first pandemic
Our shortcomings must be made visible, as well as the silver linings. A contingency plan to continue learning remotely should be developed.
3. Develop protocols
There are significant demands to operate schools safely. School-based design needs to include professional development for all staff students and parents.
4. Create effective delivery for remote learning
Addressing shortcomings from the first pandemic should be a priority. Teachers and school staff should be declared ‘first responders’ and their need for professional development, emotional support and protection of critical. Our government will need to fund teacher CPD better…
5. Strengthen an expanded learning ecosystem
To develop remote learning which has already taken place, technology and telecommunication companies, televisions and radio stations should be maintained and strengthened. With the number of young people with televisions and mobile phones in their hands, it should be quite easy for a government to put homeschooling lessons in front of all pupils…
6. Sustain and deepen teacher professional development
On-going professional development needs to become a much more integral part of the work organisation in education. The OECD recommends an investment in research and collaboration to good ideas spread and scaled across the school system.”
7. Develop capacity for blended learning
The reopening of schools should not be understood as nearly resuming work, but to creatively integrate space, time and people. The OECD state that “it is likely that an important proportion of learning time will remain online.”
8. Assess student needs and outcomes
Schools are very equipped to assess the needs of the students. Our young people will have experienced trauma as a result of the pandemic, so schools will have to work very carefully with those young people who still refuse to engage. The OECD recommends schools “develop individualised strategies to retain the engagement of students and families.”
9. Recover learning loss
Additional learning time will be necessary. creating expanded learning opportunities might involve extending the duration of the school day, week or holidays, but I personally do not believe this means stripping back the foundation subjects to replace fo core subjects.
It will be very interesting to see which parts of the world opt for performance versus wellbeing.
10. Rebalance the curriculum
Instructional practice is highlighted, but with different conditions considered: in school, at home and online. More time will also be used for handwashing and hygiene, reducing opportunities must be considered. “New blended opportunities, ensuring an effective infrastructure to allow collaboration online should be a priority.”
Functioning, time management, self-monitoring and self-direction of the curriculum should explicitly cultivate essential interpersonal skills.
Work in the curriculum is a rebalancing opportunity, not just to respond to the immediate health crisis, to address the important task of building 21st-century schools.
11. Developed an effective communication system
It is not surprising that one of the greatest stresses placed upon UK schools was the lack of communication from the government. Communication is the key strategy; the OECD recommends not to confuse communication with broadcasting messages from leadership.
“It is imperative to listen to the voice of students, in assessing their experience, in taking stock of how schools have adjusted to the pandemic”; consulting with families on what kind of education they prefer for their children.
12. Build capacity to lead and support innovation
The pandemic has revealed the limitations of existing leadership. Those who were able to create alliances, to build collaborations across stakeholders in the public and private sector. Future leadership must develop infrastructure.
13. Differentiate autonomy
Some schools have limited institutional and financial capacity and will require more guidance. It is reassuring to read the OECD write, “those leaders and teachers in the school are best placed to make the decisions in the best interests of their students.”
A one size fits all methodology, fits one person.
14. Unleash innovation
Given the financial, institutional and human constraints on schools, school leaders must make decisions in a timely manner for the year ahead. Not just with distance learning, but with typical decisions such as exams, timetables, class sizes and curriculum choices. It is truly a time to be innovative.
15. Mobilise resources
There has been a significant financial toll across society, with significant austerity predicted in the immediate aftermath. “Education must be a priority as an investment during the pandemic.” Financial resources will be essential, and the government must give our state schools, in particular, the financial capability to support the most vulnerable.
The responses analysed in this report indicate that the learning that has taken place during this period when schools were closed is at best only a proportion of what students would have learned in school. This, however, must be carefully weighed against the health risks and requirements in order to mitigate the toll of the pandemic.
There are over 50 tables in the paper; I have provided a sample below.
The research recognises risks and trade-offs, as well as protecting teachers. Investment in training is central and stakeholders must be sufficiently briefed or prepared in order to prepare for social acceptance of policy measures.
Download the paper: Schooling disrupted, schooling rethought OECD