Remobilising, realigning and rethinking education
This September represents a fresh start like no other. Whilst the path is uncertain, we only need to look back to see how far we have come when the odds have been stacked against us in so many ways. I believe this is a great time for the education sector to do some learning of its own and to use this derailment to take a new direction towards a data-driven, responsive delivery model and improve education for all.
Online, on-demand…as standard?
During lockdown, the education sector made huge strides towards a digital delivery model, regardless of whether this was through necessity or not. What began as a logistical nightmare, testing infrastructure and nerves in equal measure (I never imagined “you’re on mute” would be my most spoken sentence of the year), has now found a steady groove. With no end in sight for at least a blended model for delivery, we’re now beginning to ask what more we want from the systems we hastened to implement. How can our digital delivery offer personalisation, can it be more intuitive, more responsive, more detailed? Can digital delivery offer more than what we had before?
Data-driven insights improve efficiencies
Remote teaching and using digital methods of delivery as part of a blended learning approach is ‘stage one’ in what could be a huge overhaul to education at a macro-level. Not only has it supported continued learning, but providers are beginning to see the benefits of what data can do to support their interventions with learners.
For the parents amongst us, we have gained an increased respect for the difficulties and pressures associated with teaching and we are collectively grateful for the job that teachers and educational organisations as a whole do. However, with the best will in the world, teachers cannot be expected to know and understand the intricacies of every single learner from every single cohort they teach. Their starting point, their strengths, their weaknesses, their gains, their losses – and this was before lockdown!
Now, a whole host of risk-reducing measures are in place such as: maintaining social distance, learners and staff who are still shielding, ensuring ventilation and keeping groups apart as per the most recent guidance for further education. These measures may mean that face-to-face delivery is less possible for some providers. If this is the case for your organisation, understanding where interventions are required will be more difficult than ever. It is for this reason that it’s important to get this data in a seamless, easy to interpret format so that you can take any necessary actions.
Data-driven insights aren’t about replacing teachers with robots. Learners need direction, support, encouragement and valuable interactions. Insights should be used to empower teachers and tutors to streamline their delivery, target areas in need of support and measure impact from a desired point in their learning journey. Insights help teachers to treat learners as individuals, made easier through comprehensive and holistic data, with a clear view of distance travelled and digitally captured check points.
Data to demonstrate compliance
What might the new world mean for the Education Inspection Framework (EIF) and provider compliance? Inspections, as we knew them, will not recommence as yet in place of them are ‘visits’ without grading and ‘constructive conversations’.
Ofsted has stated that they will: “look at how effectively leaders are enabling provision to resume fully following an extended break in formal education, including considering remote education and safeguarding”. In their latest update, Ofsted has said that they will look at:
1. What actions are leaders taking to ensure that they provide an appropriate curriculum that meets the reasonable needs of learners and stakeholders and adapts to changed circumstances?
2. What steps are leaders, managers and staff taking to ensure that the approaches used for building knowledge and skills are appropriate to meet the reasonable needs of learners?
3. How are leaders ensuring that learners are safe and well informed about potential risks, including from online sources?
As there will be less opportunity for physical observations, or there will be an adapted approach to delivery, the reliance on efficient data is likely to be paramount. Not only will data give staff the ability to make considered and evidenced interventions at learner level, without making compromises at group level, but also to provide clear and detailed analysis of how the provider has made adaptations and considerations and continued to meet the needs of learners.
Taking a blended approach to remobilise education
The road to recovery will be different and each journey will be unique with its own challenges – that goes for the provider and the learner. There is no longer a status quo and there has been little time manage an adequate transitional period, for staff and learners. Throughout, the education sector has demonstrated great resilience and adaptability. If we think back to March, ahead of most of the reverberations felt by lockdown, the task ahead seemed utterly insurmountable and September a long way off.
We’ve emerged wiser and with a greater understanding of our individual capacity and our capacity as a sector. I’ve never experienced such unity as we came together for a merging of minds and matter to manage an incredible challenging situation as effectively as possible.
Many new skills have been gained, as well as a new understanding and new appreciation of technology and insight and the advantages this brings. Alongside that, the enhanced appreciation I’ve mentioned of our teaching staff. As we move into a new academic year, let’s use the power of a blended approach to our advantage to make education as effective, future-proofed and resilient as possible.
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