The closure of all schools in the UK for most pupils, the cancellation of exams with results awarded by a flawed algorithm and university students that were locked into their halls of residence, are some of the education headlines in 2020 that no one could have foreseen.
Will we see long term changes in the way our education systems run as this pandemic continues to cause disruption resulting in massive learning loss.
Schools closed in March, except to vulnerable and children of key workers, and did not reopen until Aug/Sept, but even then class bubbles and whole year groups have been continuously sent home disrupting learning. Children have missed whole chunks of the curriculum and teachers are working hard to catch up with extra learning to try and fill those gaps, this is proving especially hard for those pupils in year six transitioning to secondary school.
Like the rest of the country, education had to switch to working online almost overnight when the first lockdown descended. schools were promised laptops from Government, but where schools asked for thirty they received eight or ten adding to an already existing digital divide, and whilst remote learning is good for higher education, streaming and recording lectures, the challenges it presents to Primary Schools highlight the importance of having a physical teacher in front of the class.
There is evidence that some children have regressed through the lockdown with some potty-trained children lapsing back into using nappies, whilst others seemed to have lost the skills learned to use a knife and fork or to dress themselves.
2020 has been hard on teachers and school staff, extra work making schools as safe as possible, and longer hours preparing classwork for home, the potential health risks being in the classroom and the constant changing of Government guidelines, sometimes daily.
I believe that there is a newfound respect for what teachers do, given the difficulties many parents and carers experienced when they had to home school their children in the first lockdown and perhaps, they can understand why there is disappointment and anger in the profession after praise from the Government about the contribution made by school staff was rewarded by a pay freeze in November.