How schools are making a positive impact in the new normal

Mike Israel – Customer Success Manager from Education Horizons Group recently ran a workshop as part of the King’s School National Boys Conference in Paramatta NSW. The workshop explored the topic of ‘How schools are making a positive impact in the new normal,’ unpacking several insights into challenges that COVID-19 surfaced in the 2021 School Survey Report.

The report illustrates the major challenges and priorities for over 1,000 Australian Educators from 600+ schools. The preparedness of schools to transition to remote learning was varied but it clearly placed a huge strain on the education system and raised many challenges for the sector.

male student in grey shirt staring at laptop remote learning

93% of schools found dealing with COVID-19 related disruption challenging to some degree.

Mike Israel presenting at King's School National Boys Conference 2021

A key theme discussed in the workshop and our report was the challenge for staff to manage their own wellbeing and maintain work-life balance. Although more importance seems to have been placed on student wellbeing for workshop participants.

“Both are a priority but there is a greater focus on student rather than staff wellbeing at the moment. This is an aspect we should possibly review. A lot of the literature suggests that we cannot look after our own wellbeing we cannot look after others effectively.”

“Student and staff wellbeing will directly affect academics, as a safe and happy staff member will deliver a greater program for the students, which in turn will allow for the students to achieve greater outcomes.”

In some ways the pandemic provided the opportunity to test different learning approaches, and to understand how remote learning can be improved. It also brought into focus some of the long-term challenges for students who had pre-existing wellbeing or learning issues and forced us to better understand how those students might be better supported.

53% of schools found staying engaged with students learning remotely challenging.

“In our experience, boys struggle to self-regulate compared to girls. This was very evident during the transition to online learning.”

“Some subjects suffered more than others as it is harder to facilitate group discussion/debate with online learning.”

“Success of online learning depends on the focus of the student and their learning needs.”

Leaders rated their level of preparedness for remote learning higher than teachers.

41% of teachers reported being less than ‘Fairly Prepared’ to transition to remote learning, compared with 74 per cent of School Leaders who reported ‘Fairly Prepared and above.’ Workshop participant responses varied some teachers felt prepared, others less prepared. The experience seemed to be quite individual to each person.

Schools are looking for better solutions that can support:

Tools to release feedback on assessment prior to releasing marks

“We are looking to improve the quality of feedback in our school.”

“What tools can we use to provide feedback on assessment prior to releasing marks?”

Tools that support learning differentiation

“Need tools that homogenize the learning process, blending the needs of individual students.”

How can we better prepare schools for future challenges?

According to workshop participants, the areas their school will be focusing on include:

“One platform that supports learning and school management needs.”

“More collaboration with peers. Sharing of classes to spread the load.”

“Ongoing PD that includes development of remote learning resources.”

“We haven’t really done anything to improve teacher workload, but we need to.”

To find out more about how SEQTA can better prepare your school to meet these challenges, book a demo and get started today.