This publication shows the results of the survey done by NFER (national foundation or educational research) on the responses of schools to Covid-19 in May. It’s primary focus is on the challenges faced by the schools once they are opened in September. This research is jointly published by Nuffield foundation and NFER and includes 3000 school leaders and 2200 teachers from primary and secondary schools in England. The data was collection occurred between 8th and 15th of July.
Findings of the survey
Students’ learning and the need for a catchup with the curriculum
- Nearly all students are assumed by their teachers to be at least three months behind from their curriculum. The learning gap between disadvantaged students and their peers have increased.
- Teachers from more deprived schools seem three times more likely to report that their students are four months or more behind in the curriculum learning than the teachers of the least deprived schools.
- The causes of the provision of remote learning included the decrease in levels of parents and pupils engagement over time and the lack of remote teaching approaches over the passage of time.
- The provision of in-school teaching took the resources from pupils studying at home in June. Moreover, there was a remarkable low attendance especially among people of premium and Black, minority and ethnic Asians. On the other hand, there was a reduced quality of in-school teaching due to social distancing restrictions.
- The schools serving the most deprived populations faced the issues of low IT equipment. Even though the staff was provided with the equipment by the school and some teachers supplied their laptops, camera to the school still three fifths either provided their own or had no access at all. Over one-quarter of the students had limited access to IT equipment while learning from home.
- It is estimated by the teachers that 44% of the students have an urgent need to catch up to the curriculum. The percentage of these estimates is much higher in deprived schools and in those serving the students from BAME background.
- The top priorities of senior leaders included providing emotional and mental support to pupils (83%), provision of support for learning and education (64%) and to settling them to school (63%). Activities for academic catch-up would most likely be held in small groups or one to one sessions.
Opening of schools with safety and supporting the workforce
- A number of leaders are worried to manage the opening of schools and plan to hire more staff and add more resources for cleaning and add safe and protective IT equipment. On the other hand, most other leaders find it somewhat manageable to open schools with minimum risk of infection.
- There is a drastic decrease ( more than half) in the percentage of teachers and leaders intending to leave their profession as compared to the previous estimates. Moreover, Initial Teacher Training placements will be reduced for the year 2020/21 which is a concern given the increasing amount of applications for ITT.
Implications for governments, schools and their supporters
- In order to reassure the concerned parents for their children’s safety, the Government’s national advertising campaign has to be convincing and should continue till autumn.
- To manage the non-attending pupils, schools might require help from local authorities (LAs) and trusts.
- Schools need extra resourcing for cleaning and maintaining social distancing apart from the Government’s extra funding for catch-up support.
- There is an increasing demand for the Government to collaborate with school leaders to overcome the challenge of increased ITT applications and the reduction of training places in schools.
- Expectations of schools may need to be modified by Ofsted of providing a broad curriculum once the inspections resume while social distancing is still in force.
- More important should be given to the catchup, rather than treating it merely a quick fix it should be treated as long term endeavour.
- ‘Blended learning’ should be improvised in future partial lockdowns which should involve in school learning for children belonging to unsuitable home environments.
- In order to reopen the school, help from the Government is needed for safeguarding otherwise schools will avoid teaching and learning where interaction among pupils is involved.
- Schools need to adopt strategies such as metacognitive approaches and the virtual learning environment to reinforce independent and remote learning in students.
- The plan of government to provide devices and laptops to disadvantaged pupils in years 3-11 during the lockdown should be implemented instantaneously.