Teachers conclude that access to online school environment with wellbeing support for students is essential in current context
Lockdown hit schools unprepared and teachers witnessed the worrying impact of school closures on the young generation first-hand. Never in a teacher’s lifetime was the need for a ready-to-use remote learning environment as apparent as in spring 2020. Although the world seems to slowly get back to normal right now, it is evident that we need to prepare for possible future interruptions to face-to-face teaching. The DfE’s guidance is that remote learning plans must be in place before the end of September. Schools ought to act now and create the ability to flexibly alternate between online and offline teaching.
At a free professional development webinar forming part of a pilot scheme for eduu.school*, we asked teachers whether they thought an online school environment was important to support students in the COVID context. Here’s what they had to say:
Students feel neglected if we don’t provide consistent access to teaching
“During COVID, I think it is essential for students to have access to teachers and wellbeing support because many vulnerable students have lost their in-school support. They need to see that there has been a dedicated replacement for this during school closure and that they haven't been abandoned”. Nicola Payne, Teacher
“I know there are many students who have been impacted and there are many who will feel alone. It is vital that they have access to people who can support them both academically and with their wellbeing”. Jennifer Caddick, Teacher
Dramatic psychological impacts if we fail to support students
“Children are our future and the impact of Covid on their mental health is so detrimental to their wellbeing. They need to know there is support out there and that they are not alone and can seek help before it’s too late”. Anonymous, Teacher
“In light of what I have learnt in the webinar, about the many damaging effects of the Covid-19 crisis and how it is itself a potential ACE (editor’s note: adverse childhood experience) and can increase children's exposures to ACEs; I think that an online school environment is essential in order to provide safeguarding for pupils”. Anonymous, Teacher
Teachers demand for eduu.school pilot to be made available more widely
“At this point many students have not had any formal education for over 6 months. This can leave them feeling alone, isolated and scared. The summer holidays are adding to this and may be the final straw for many. I understand your support is only for students eligible for a DfE laptop but there are many more students struggling at this time and support needs to be a national strategy”. Jennifer Caddick, Teacher
“The challenge (…) is making the service as accessible to students as in-school support is. The success of in-school support systems often relies on the relationships that staff form with students; this of course is more difficult/not possible online”. Nicola Payne, Teacher
Access to remote school environment and wellbeing support is essential for students
During school closures many students fell behind on learning objectives because most schools were unable to access a tried-and-tested method to deliver remote teaching such as eduu.school. This also meant that students were abruptly cut off from the support network face-to-face teaching usually offers. To ensure academic progression and effectively support, access to teaching needs to be consistent - whether at school or via a remote learning environment.
It is without doubt more challenging to provide emotional support to students online, which is why we need to explicitly focus on wellbeing during times of remote teaching. Online learning platform eduu.school brings together live and recorded lessons, curriculum resources and wellbeing and mental health support, which has been backed by the national trauma charity Trauma Response Network.
No doubt, this is one of the biggest challenges schools have had to face in a long time, but is there a silver lining? Longer term this could be an opportunity to gather experiences and implement new ways of teaching and learning. It could enable us to permanently enrich teaching programmes with an explicit focus on wellbeing and the flexibility blended learning can offer.
eduu.school is taking registrations now from schools wanting to deliver high quality support to pupils.
*eduu.school is a simple online environment that brings together live and recorded lessons, curriculum resources and pastoral and wellbeing support. After running a successful pilot scheme supporting thousands of students and their teachers in the Midlands after lockdown, key partners decided that the pilot will be extended to ensure that all schools can successfully deliver high quality remote learning.