As tragic and devastating as COVID-19 has been, and will continue to be as the impact on mental health and long term learning becomes apparent, it has given some great insights into what education should consider in the future.

Having to teach their own children at home may well have made the majority of parents appreciate the role of teachers more, but the “never again” response should not be accepted. Parents need to more involved with their children’s lessons: not ‘just’ helping with the homework but actively involved in their children’s learning, activities, and interacting more with the teachers, possibly through the Teachers Assistant role and Alternative Curriculum programs.

For the children teaching needs to be more ongoing and flexible, not solely classroom based and structured around conventional term times. Incorporating an online approach to group homework, catch up lessons, revision, project work would keep the children (and their parents) engaged with the schools on an ongoing and interactive basis. Teaching hours would need to be more flexible to accommodate this second timetable, but that may suit many teachers with children of their own, and reverse teacher ‘burn out’ and disenchantment with not spending enough of their time teaching.

Assessment at the end of the year is not the best approach! Regardless of the ‘format’ to have an ‘all or nothing’ system based on the cumulation of two years work is neither necessary of viable. Why put so much emphasis and risk on what is essentially one outcome. Continual assessment, with the ability to catch up (see above) gives children the opportunity to make changes earlier and before they are deemed to be a failure.

The current curriculum is not preparing children well enough for the future, evidenced by how many have struggled during the pandemic to cope and keep themselves occupied and active. Parents in particular have become too ‘dependent’ on the classroom for more than the formal curriculum education and a closer relationship between teacher, pupil, parent and community must surely be of benefit to all. The core curriculum should be seen as the foundation, not the entirety of a child’s learning, and the measure of success should be more focussed on what the child does next than on what they have achieved: we do not all respond the same way, or develop at the same rate.

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