The Prospero Teaching team consider what this means for children across the country, especially those that are disadvantaged or without access to digital technology at home. With the majority of the nation’s children and young people now learning at home, how will lockdown 3.0 affect teacher and student wellbeing?
How the UK’s Third National Lockdown Will Affect Education
As we head into the next period of enforced home working and learning, schools were still in the process of recouping from an incredibly difficult 2020. Even before this latest lockdown, education news outlets were reporting that:
- Up to 250,000 teachers were in self-isolation
- 22% of Secondary pupils were absent from school
- Over 100,000 ‘invisible children’ were at significant risk of falling through education and social care gaps.
The general public may think of schools as being effectively ‘closed’, with teachers and educational staff having time at home to work on resources and teach their students online. The reality is very different.
Across the country, schools are likely to have held emergency meetings on the morning of Tuesday January 5th
to completely reshape their approach for the month. They were open on Monday, and were ready and planned to accommodate Covid testing across the students alongside the usual lessons in class. New staff will have been inducted, welcome back assemblies will have been readied, intervention groups will have been prepared for students to bridge the gaps in their learning. Before this, teachers may have even had a few days off over Christmas at home, safe in the knowledge that their term’s worth of classroom-ready lessons and resources were planned and good to go.
However, the situation has changed.
The Situation for Teachers in the Third Lockdown
The requirement (as per Lockdown 1.0 back in March 2020) is now to teach children of key workers in class as usual and the rest online.
The vast majority of teachers are still in class in front of 5-10 children of key workers (potentially many more, depending on staff shortages and illness) whilst simultaneously being in front of a laptop, broadcasting the same lesson to the rest of the class signing in from home. For teachers, this means that these lessons, the activities and the resources involved will have to be re-planned to work both in class and online. The teacher is now responsible for keeping the attention of all their students who are sitting socially distanced across their classroom, as well as in multiple homes over the computer screen. The additional expectations add to a significant increase in pressure and workload.
This may all sound quite possible and achievable. However, we must not over value ‘home learning’ as an effective substitute for the classroom. Sadly, this becomes a much more difficult issue when you consider the ‘digital divide’ across the country. ‘Digital Divide’ is a term that refers to the gap between demographics and regions that do and do not have access to modern ICT (information and communications technology). This technology can include the telephone, television, personal computers and the Internet. What of those pupils whose parents or carers are not key workers and who do not have access to a laptop or a reliable internet connection?
How Will Vulnerable Children Access Education in Lockdown?
The Children’s Commissioner
has recently reported that 9% of families do not have access to a laptop or tablet. Ofcom estimate that at between 1.1 and 1.7 million children. These devices have already proven vital to children during the pandemic for maintaining a grasp on education (provided by their schools and including the excellent online resources from the likes of Oak Academy
and BBC Bitesize
) as well as keeping socially connected with friends and family.
For those without, there is a real danger of falling even further behind. We must hope that the government continues to fund supplying families across the country with online access now that this is increasingly being viewed as a necessity rather than a luxury. The Department for Education (DfE) reported that more than 560,000 devices were delivered to schools and councils in 2020. Just announced before Christmas, the DfE had purchased 440,000 more, however distribution of these devices may still be ongoing.
It has been reported
on a small scale that the DfE have stated that children deemed to be ‘vulnerable’
should and will be allowed to attend school. However, this hasn’t been widely reported and many parents and carers are either unaware of this fact, or do not feel it is safe for their children to be attending school in the current situation. Hopefully, as more time passes, more children may be able to attend school safely. There is hope for education amidst lockdown!
Nonetheless, the impact on teacher wellbeing will continue into 2021. Educators may be asking themselves, ‘How can I maintain the focus, motivation and progress of all pupils under such constraints?’ We commend the incredible efforts and lengths that our staff in schools are undertaking to ensure education continues for children. (For some positive encouragement, check out our recent interview blog post
with a primary teacher who has felt very proud and appreciative of being able to continue teaching during the coronavirus crisis.) Never before has the teaching profession been so evidently vital to society, and teaching staff are continuing to strive to support their pupils and schools as much as possible.
Positive Increase in Teacher Applications
Encouragingly, there is an increasing level of interest in the profession as people have been inspired to enter (or even return to!) roles in education. Thousands of members of the public are keen to enter a profession that makes a difference to the lives of millions of children and support the country in a time of great need. This seems to show the lockdown has not been all bad news for education. The major teacher shortage of the past decade, which saw over half of NQTs leaving the profession within their first five years, could soon see a significant reversal.
Interesting in a supporting young people’s education through the lockdown? Perhaps now is the time for you to think about how your skills and experience could help schools and children during the Covid-19 pandemic. Prospero Teaching have wide range of roles available across the UK – take a look at our latest teaching jobs
If you would like to get in touch with one of our consultants to discuss your next opportunity, please reach out to us