This year has created the climate for a mind-set shift on the purpose and focus of education. Edge’s recent polling of parents of children aged 18 and under and teachers across the UK, in partnership with YouGov, has clearly shown the degree of appetite for change. Two thirds of parents (66%) and more than three-quarters of teachers surveyed (78%) agreed that teaching and education in the future needs to change.
They were also united in their views on how they want it to change – becoming broader and more relevant to young people’s future. More than eight out of ten parents surveyed (86%) wanted their children’s education to help them develop values like kindness, empathy and community cohesion. Nearly all teachers surveyed (96%) said that they want to help their pupils develop a range of skills, like critical thinking, creative problem solving and communication.
This has radical implications for education policy, pointing clearly away from the narrow academic focus of the Government’s EBacc and in the opposite direction from their increasing reliance on written examinations of knowledge recall as the only means of assessment. Edge has been pleased to support the foundation of the Rethinking Assessment movement in recent months specifically to address this by bringing together a wide coalition of education leaders to consider how the assessment system can truly reflect the full range of young people’s strengths.
In terms of practice, necessity is as always the mother of invention. The challenge for us as a sector will be holding onto the best of new and innovative practice, forged through necessity, and setting that alongside the best of ‘BC’, as a colleague put it on a recent video call, Before Corona.
We know this has been an incredibly challenging year for teachers and tutors, but we have been consistently impressed by their amazing capacity for innovation and energy. In our recent report on the impact of Corona, Tricia McCartney, Head of Primary Literacy at Schools 21, reflected on the reasons teachers should continue to record lessons after Covid-19. She reflected that this approach can help alter pace for specific groups, mitigate the impact of student absence and encourage children to create content to share with parents at home.
Tricia is not alone in being inspired by the changes born of necessity and considering how we can keep the best of them. More than half (54%) of teachers surveyed by Edge felt that teaching using digital tools during the Coronavirus outbreak had given them new ideas and techniques to use in future.
Our colleagues at Big Education have done an amazing job of collating views from across the education sector on the theme of Learning from Lockdown with blogs and podcasts reflecting on everything from project based learning to the importance of the home-school link. Peter Hyman, Chief Executive of Big Education and founder of the site, will be joining Edge and Schools of Tomorrow for a joint event on 04 November to gather more views from schools and colleges around the country on their lessons from lockdown.
Across the education sector, we all need to be a part of helping to embed those lessons. The teachers in Edge’s survey were keen to gain more direct industry experience, with 57% saying that they would find spending time in a relevant business helpful as part of their continuing professional development.
During lockdown, Edge has taken its successful programme of teacher externships online. Borrowing from excellent practice in the US, before lockdown we supported more than 80 teachers in the North East to take part in immersive one-day externships and then to use that real world experience to develop an exciting and engaging project to bring the curriculum alive for their students.
The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and so when lockdown hit, Edge started piloting an online version of the externships. As Cherakee Bradley, who manages the programme, reflected:
At first we were concerned that the online externships wouldn’t be as rich as the real life experience, but we’ve been bowled over by the reaction. This is such a natural way for teachers and businesses to communicate now. It allows a much wider range of teachers and businesses to be involved, without needing to necessarily be near each other. We’ve seen some really rich partnerships in the programme, including in unexpected areas like linking an English teacher with an offshore engineering firm. It can be a really energising experience for both sides.
As part of our growing Edge Future Learning programme, we want to expand our externships both online and in real life when this is allowed. That is just one of our contributions to learning and embedding the lessons of lockdown – what’s yours?
You can sign up for the free Edge and Schools of Tomorrow event Learning from Lockdown.
You can download a copy of Edge’s report on the early evidence of impact of Corona on education.
You can share your lessons and insights from lockdown.
You can find out more and sign up to support the Rethinking Assessment movement.
To find out more about Edge’s Teacher Externships, email Cherakee Bradley, Education and Employer Engagement Coordinator – email@example.com