Topics for the day included the effect of the pandemic on children and schools, EdTech usage and online learning, and the importance of promoting diversity in education.
Five key takeaways
1. Learning loss is not the same for all students
In order to know where to go from here, we first need to consider how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted on children’s education. Richard Vaughan (Curriculum Strategy division, Department for Education (DfE)) explained that learning loss from the pandemic ranges from one to three months of education across pupils. The DfE aims to combat these losses through providing 6 million tutoring courses via the National Tutoring Programme.
Secondary pupils suffered from ‘learning loss’ more than primary pupils, with the former experiencing an average of two months’ lost learning. These disparities exist between subjects too with a generally greater loss in maths than in reading. Ruth Maisey (The Nuffield Foundation) highlighted that children in Alternative Provision settings and those from disadvantaged backgrounds have suffered disproportionately, presenting higher learning loss than their peers.
2. Pupils and teachers’ mental health must become a priority
The importance of supporting young people’s mental health was once again a key talking point, especially in light of the difficulties faced at home and at school over the past two years, and the impact of that on their emotional and social development.
Equally as important is support for educators who have experienced and overcome a host of new challenges since the pandemic began. It is important for schools to develop awareness surrounding mental health and to bring this to their school curricula and policy.
3. The pandemic has positively impacted parental engagement with education
Kerry-Jane Packham (Parentkind) described how parents have now gained greater insight into their children’s school lives. And thanks to the increased use of online communication channels in schools, parents can communicate more easily with class teachers and the wider school community. This overall increase in parental engagement has made for a more supportive learning environment for many children.
4. The curriculum must better prepare pupils for working life
A number of the panellists, including Lord Jim Knight (E-Act Multi-Academy Trust), recognised that there is room for change within our national curriculum to better prepare pupils for the world of work. This could be achieved by revising the vocational qualifications currently on offer and by ensuring relevant workplace skills are taught in schools.
5. Everyone in education has a responsibility to promote diversity
Championing diversity in the curriculum and promoting inclusion in everyday school life were two highly important topics at this year’s conference. Suha Yassin (Pearson) emphasised that it is the responsibility of all in the education industry to promote diversity. In terms of educational resources and the overarching curriculum, the content we teach should reflect its audience.
In our next blog, we delve deeper into our insights from the Curriculum Conference. We will consider the facts and opinions presented by the panellists in light of what we know about current trends in the education sector, and will signpost to relevant research. Read our blog on Curriculum Change for an overview of the latest curriculum news.