70% of school teachers think students haven’t adapted well to remote learning amid COVID-19 closures

Most schools feel unprepared for the phased re-opening of campuses which started yesterday

Seventy percent of school teachers don’t feel their students adapted well to the remote learning model implemented in response to the coronavirus school closures, according to new research by Tes Global.

On top of this, only 30% of school staff believe their school is prepared to return to campus under social distancing measures.

The study drew on responses from over 5,000 school staff, finding that more than half were not looking forward to re-opening and nearly three quarters (70%) did not expect their job to be the same as it was pre-pandemic.

Teachers and SLTs have voiced concerns over the hurdles schools will face once their doors re-open, with 80% of respondents citing timetabling as a major challenge. Further to this, two thirds (64%) felt pupil behaviour could become an issue, while, worryingly, almost a fifth (19%) said they would be unable to return to work once their school is up and running. In England, this means 266,000 staff members from state-funded schools would not be able to return.

To help ease the transition and maintain the utmost levels of safety, Tes Global has launched a new back to school hub, where school staff can access free help and advice, as well as tailored support packages to assist with recruitment, safeguarding, timetabling and many other aspects of school life.

“Despite government reassurances, this research makes it clear that social distancing is still the top issue for those working in schools,” said Lord Jim Knight, chief education and external officer at Tes Global. “Re-opening schools is a critical step in loosening lockdown but school leaders need adequate support for teachers and students to be helped safely back into the classroom. Our new software and support hub aims to help get students and teachers safely back in the classroom with which we hope is valuable support at this time.”

Despite the doom and gloom, when staff were asked what they were most looking forward to most about going back to school, they said it was seeing their students’ faces, while the staff room and assemblies were among the things they claim to have missed the least. Almost half (46%) of respondents said they felt the crisis will strengthen relationships with colleagues, while more than half (51%) said that, since schools had closed, their workload has been manageable, and 53% had adequate access to the resources they needed while delivering classes remotely. On top of this, 54% of school staff claimed to have learnt new skills and felt they have adapted well to online education delivery throughout the lockdown period.

Rachel Tomlinson, headteacher of Barrowford Primary in Lancashire, commented: “Welcoming our Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children is going to be like returning in September, but on steroids. We are positive about the phased return but have had to accept we won’t be able to exercise proper social distancing with our younger children. Instead, we’re planning to be rigorous on personal hygiene and the cleanliness of the school. We’re also switching to online staff meetings and parents’ evenings will include the option for online and phone consultations.”

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