Visions for education

“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.”

Nelson Mandela

I firmly believe in the power of education to transform lives. I have, since a young teenager whose life was transformed by educational success. Despite the challenges in the current landscape, I still believe in its intrinsic power. Post COVID-19, I live in hope to see the following changes related to education.

  1. Explicit teaching of metacognition for pupils. 

One thing remote teaching and learning has taught us is that students need the skills to learn effectively by themselves. These skills (reflection, self-discipline, motivation, understanding of learning processes et al) don’t occur by osmosis! Schools need to embed them into the curriculum, in tandem with subject specific skills and knowledge. The EEF, a leading think-tank for education research in the UK purport that the teaching of such meta-cognitive skills can add “the equivalent of an additional +7 months’ progress when used well”. This could be a real game changer for all pupils, particularly those from poor backgrounds.

  1. More flexible working arrangements, particularly for parents. 

If you have worked from home this period, I’m almost certain that you have managed to carry out some of your normal duties. We’ve all realised that we don’t have to be at our physical place of work for every directed hour. That’s just a natural consequence of the rise of the ‘knowledge worker’. Being at home on some occasions could give each parent more time with their children, so they can be actively engaged with their education. With 4 million children in poverty in the UK, and a staggering 301 million children across the world, this could be critical for poorer families, so that we can close attainment gaps, which lead to wealth and income gaps which lead to quality of life gaps ad infinitum. 

  1. Better pay and incentives for teachers. 

There’s a strong argument to make the claim that educators are frontline workers. As the children of healthcare professionals were required to still attend school, many schools kept their doors open throughout each phase of the pandemic with brave teachers risking their lives to care for and educate these pupils. Some teachers sadly passed away in service to such pupils and their families. We celebrate the lives of those heroes and may the rest in peace.

Recognising the central importance of teachers in every society, through better pay and conditions, could be a strategy to fix the recruitment and retention crisis. 

Final thoughts…

My hopes for education post COVID-19 will require deep changes to educational practice and government policy. As Mandela said, “education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world”. Let’s not render this power impotent, but use this crisis as an opportunity to ignite the flames of change.