From goodness knows where, in the last few weeks school and college leaders have pulled out all the stops. The education profession has risen to the Covid-19 challenge.
From nursery schools to further education colleges, educators have entrenched themselves in their communities. Thousands of teachers and support staff are busy at home trying to provide a support system for parents and a semblance of routine for children and young people.
One thing is clear, when this is over, society will be fundamentally changed. Children and their families, our school and college communities, will need considerable support to deal with changes in employment and housing situations.
No adult or child will be untouched. When we come out of social distancing and isolation, children and young people and their families will need help to manage mental health, self-esteem, friendships and relationships.
Education will need to change, too. We cannot simply return to the status quo. However, it is not only the 2019-20 cohort who will be affected by this crisis. The education, physical and mental health of a generation is at stake.
When we go back to school everything will be different – and it must be different. We need to ask ourselves the fundamental question: what is the purpose of education?
When the time is right, the profession, the experts, must start formulating the answer. We must be ready to enter a new reality of an education system that values the professional judgment of teachers and leaders.
The use of education as an ideological and political football that fails the most vulnerable must end. We cannot continue with a toxic exam system that is based on rote learning and an exam system that has been responsible for a dramatic rise in child and adolescent mental health illness.
We have got to stop the testing hamster wheel that burns out children. We cannot continue to allow 16-year-olds to sit 33 hours of GCSE exams, when education and training continues to age 18 and beyond.
We must end the fixation with A-levels as the “gold standard”, just because they’ve been around a long time. Our education system must recognise the achievements of all and must not continue to label those who take a vocational education route as less worthy or less valuable, or their qualifications less rigorous.
Source: Excerpt from article published in theguardian.co.uk