Transcript: Episode 4
How can children learn under lockdown?
Vivienne Parry 0:09
Hello, and welcome to Coronavirus the whole story. I'm Vivienne Perry, a writer, broadcaster UCL alumna and now host of this podcast. Like it says on the tin. We're looking at the whole story of Coronavirus, recognising the critical insights that UCS researchers from every discipline can contribute to our understanding of Coronavirus and its impact. If you're joining us for the first time today, we're very pleased to have you on board Hello. And if you want to catch up with previous episodes, which explore life in intensive care, UCL projects to monitor the spread of the virus and potential plans for easing the lockdown. We'll be giving you details of how to find them later. But today in our fourth episode learning under lockdown, we're going to be exploring the impact of lockdown on children and young people's education with researchers From the Institute of Education, if you don't know the iwi, it's a phenomenon. For the past seven years, it's been ranked number one in the world for education in the QSR World University Rankings. And what makes it so strong is its interdisciplinarity breadth and depth not just an education across every phase, subject, context and setting, but also its deep expertise in psychology and social change. Its expertise that will be vital as we move into a post COVID world. So to our guests today, I'm lucky enough to be joined remotely, of course by three guests from the Institute, Dr. Zachary Walker, associate professor and academic head of teaching and learning in the department of psychology and human development. His research focuses on innovative pedagogy and inclusion. Professor Lindsay McMillan of the Department of Social Science, whose research covers the entire dynamics of socio economic status, family and education. Last but certainly not least, Dr. Rob Webster, associate professor in the centre for inclusive education. Rob is a leading expert on teaching assistants and he's currently working on several projects, focusing on special educational needs. So let's begin with the biggest question of all. Zachary, how is the lockdown affecting children and young people's education?
Zachary Walker 2:24
Well, thank you. I think it's a valuable question. I would, I would first of all preface it by saying what everyone I think knows, but we don't often think about is that you know, every child is incredibly different. Every child has a different families situation has different parents have different support network. So anything that we say, obviously, is a general statement, because as we know, you know, we're seeing unfortunately, more calls to domestic abuse hotlines go up we're seeing things like that which obviously does not put children in a fantastic home. situation. However, on the other side of that, I think it's important to point out the positives. I think I've heard of people and I know of people who, and I've spoken with children who are enjoying the family time, they're spending time with their siblings and actually helping them with their homework. I have a colleague who, his family, they connect every morning at eight o'clock and do what they call a family huddle with all the cousins around the UK. And they take 10 minutes and just talk about what they learned yesterday, what are they going to learn today? So I think there's some real positives of this experience. But there are also obviously other students who, who are struggling or other children who are who are left behind, but everybody has a different experience.
Vivienne Parry 3:45
And it's not just the school closures in and of themselves that are affecting children's capacity to learn it. There's a whole range of other social factors at home that are affecting people's ability to learn.
Zachary Walker 3:57
Absolutely. I mean, you know, Before learning can happen, you know, we have to have psychological safety. And for a lot of our kids, schools do provide that. But for a lot of our kids, they don't as well. And I'm sure Rob will touch on that potentially later. You know, that that emotional safety that psychological safety is critical before we can process any new information. So, when we look at education, when we look at learning, I think the capacity to learn could be impacted by this situation because if you're in a situation at home, which is a bit fraught or scary in some ways, then that's gonna make a big impact. However, there are other kids who are thriving and and we've got some research, some qualitative research where we've talked to students who are saying that they're actually really enjoying this because they don't feel like they're getting bullied. They don't feel the pressure to kind of fit in, they're able to get adequate amount of sleep. There you Better, they're not always in a rush. So we've got kind of both sides of the story here. And I think it's important that we we keep in mind that, like you said in the question, school is not just about learning content, there's lots of other things that go on there. And I think part of what we have to make sure that we're doing as parents and as educators and just as a society is that we're trying to support children beyond just their maths and their sciences in their their English.
Vivienne Parry 5:26
And there's real practical problem for a lot of kids is, you know, first of all, there's the fight over the broad bat. And then there's the fight over the tablet, you know, lots of younger children do have tablets, but actually, they're not of a level that will support the kind of online learning that is necessary. And the parents of course, themselves need may need the computer for their own work.
Zachary Walker 5:49
Absolutely. And then they got, you know, some of the new government schemes were providing technology and things like that. But I wanna, I do want to take this moment to just point out something I think is really, really important here in third and 20 years, the children are not going to remember their maths lesson from from 2020. What they're going to remember is how their parents responded when things didn't go, right. They're going to, you know, they're going to remember their parents taking the extra time or their dad spent a little bit extra time with them to figure something out that maybe he didn't remember about math. You know, we talked a lot about in education, you know, grit and growth mindset, those kinds of resilience terms that have become so popular in the last few years. This is a real chance for parents to model that figuring out a way to actually act out that science lesson. So it's not about having a tablet, it's about what story can we come up with today? Those are just as valuable, oftentimes even more valuable than, than some of the content that can be delivered through a tablet. So we've got to talk about sharing, we've got to talk about the resources. Those are certainly important pieces of the conversation. But I think it's it's they don't have to Be the end all of the conversation.
Vivienne Parry 7:02
Yeah, I was talking to Mark Lythgoe, who quite a lot of people in the UCL community will know, MRI is his particular thing and imaging and he told me he was making a working model of lungs this morning with his kids to teach them about respiration, because that's a key stage two learning objective. So there are all sorts of things that you can do. But how can young people be supported in their learning by parents, carers and teachers? I mean, some kids have very hands on parents who are very inventive, able to communicate with their kids well, but there are others who are not. How do we support those people?
Zachary Walker 7:43
Well, I think one of the big things that we can do and one of my colleagues who's an educational psychologist brought this up, and I think it was really good at the start, you know, six or eight weeks ago when we were just figuring out that schools were going to be out of school for a while. He said that the best thing that you You can do as a parent is just ask your child lots of questions. Even if you don't understand the content, have them explain it to you. Spend time with them work through it together. And again, as you mentioned, not every parent can do this. But in that, that 15 minutes when you're grabbing a meal, you know, not just what did you learn today? Or tell me about your picture that you drew? Get more detailed than that, you know, why does that make sense? How does that happen? What's the process behind that when you were drawn that particular part of the picture? What did you think about right there? That's really interesting. So showing this kind of engaged. questioning and being an engaged learner yourself, learning from our students, is really, really an important piece in that, you know, if you're a key worker, and you're working extra hours and and you're exhausted and you come home, and you've only got 15 to 20 minutes, and the kids are so excited to tell you about their day. ask those questions, let them tell you let them explain it. If you're lucky enough to have time to build lungs That's the exact kind of creativity that they need. But what we can do, no matter what it is, we can model this idea that we're going to ask questions, we're going to be interested learners, because that's what we want our kids to be in these times.
Vivienne Parry 9:11
Now there's a phenomenon that's paired, which is teachers putting, as now as a huge effort to create new types of lesson, only to find that relatively few pupils log in, it's the same kind of effect, you know, when you slog your way through an incredibly nutritious recipe for your children and spend hours doing it, and then they immediately turn their noses. So it's very hard to get children to engage. What can teachers do to get more of that people engaged?
Zachary Walker 9:46
I think one of the questions we have to ask ourselves, because we say that, well, they're not as engaged because they're at home, but you know, were they engaged when they were in class and I don't mean this in a in a critical way at all. I think One of my teacher friends always, you know, always ask the question, would they come to my class if they didn't have to? And we're at a point now where, you know, they don't have to log on. And so we're finding out quite quickly what that means. I think one of the things that we have to think about as we know, the kids are logging on for video games. So what are the things that we can learn from video games? What are the resources that are already out there, because there's a tonne of good educational games, there's a tonne of good educational apps, there's lots of great resources that are already out there that kind of build in to the things that we know that matter when you're talking about learning that it has to be about doing and it has to be active and that it has to be social and it has to be fun. We've got games out there and things out there that already use those kinds of principles in the design. So that doesn't mean necessarily that the teacher says okay, I'm gonna push everybody to that particular game. But we do need to think critically about what does that game offer And how can I offer that in my lesson? I think that that's a really important piece.
Vivienne Parry 11:04
That was a question that a teacher asked us to ask our experts. Another question that you asked, which I'll just wants to close with you on is, what are we going to do to compensate for the time of those who haven't engaged, have lost because when children do get back, there's going to be a huge range of disparities between them about the ones between the ones that have been engaged and the ones that haven't.
Zachary Walker 11:32
I think, again, one of the things that we have to remember is that the mass lesson is not the most important thing that kids are going to take from this. There is an opportunity when these students come back to say, Okay, what did you learn? What was your favourite thing about this? What was the hardest thing for you? How can I put that into my classroom? What can I do differently, to make sure that now that we're all back together again, that we stay together and then we catch up and then we support each other in this learning, and I think if we're willing to have that dialogue with our students, even our youngest students, we can really, really take this time and use it to really build a stronger system for the future.
Vivienne Parry 12:10
So interesting. Thank you for that, Zachary. And what you said there was actually a perfect segue into our next guest. Lindsay, I know that a lot of your research focuses on families who will have certainly been affected more than others because of their difficult circumstances and lower incomes. What are some of the key barriers to home learning faced by these families? I think we began to touch on some of them, but what in your view are the most important?
Lindsey Macmillan 12:39
Thanks, Vivienne. Yes, you have already begun to touch on some of them and I hope that some of the parents that might listen in from these families will feel reassured by Zachary's discussion there. I certainly did, about the things that children are going to take away from this and you know, these kind of lack of resources in this situation isn't necessarily everything. But to answer your question more specific Typically the kind of resources issue that parents from lower income families are facing a lack of access to computers and the Internet, you already talked about the fact that you might have multiple siblings sharing access to computers, they might not even be a computer in the family home. some evidence that was released recently from Sutton trust suggested that 15% of teachers from deprived schools had substantial concerns about a large portion of their students not having access to online learning, compared to only 2% of teachers from the most affluent state schools. So that gives some sense of the concerns that are out there regarding being able to access these resources that teachers are providing. But I think also beyond that, there's an issue with the physical space, people having space in their homes to go away and sit down quietly and work and think about the tasks that they're being set and finding the space, you know, in a crowded house necessarily to sit down and think for yourself is quite challenging sometimes, but beyond the resources, I think, you know, coming back a little bit to Zachary point about the wider context. We've got parents who may be lacking confidence in their own skills to support their children with some of the material that schools are sending. And the advice of asking questions, even if you're not entirely sure of the answer is a great piece of advice, really, more educated parents are more likely to report that they feel confident in directing their children's learning. So so that's one of the kind of barriers that families from lower incomes or lower education backgrounds might face.
Vivienne Parry 14:30
And I guess that's going to be a particular problem in areas like the sciences and maths where parents may feel that what they learned was a long time ago, they might not be relevant that they don't understand it. I mean, God forbid that I should ever have to teach math. I was never so good at it at school, and I would feel very exposed trying to teach my child math.
Lindsey Macmillan 14:56
Yes, indeed, I think a recent study by the National numeracy body found only 22% of working age adults were functionally numerous. So you're not alone there if you feel like that. Whereas the 57% more functionally literate. So so it does strike me that maths might be a particular particular issue. And a lot of parents have their own anxieties about maths as well, you know, not feeling able to kind of communicate or at least deal with the material that the children are trying to deal with themselves. So I do think it's a specific problem in that area, in particular,
Vivienne Parry 15:32
how much for long term impact? do you predict that these weeks off? We'll have on young people, Lindsay, particularly those from low income households, I mean, what are the range of things that you're concerned about?
Lindsey Macmillan 15:46
So I do take Zachary's point I think that there are wider things for us to worry about in the education data that these children are facing and many of them are going to have mental health issues as a result of lockdown Some may have Did face bereavement, domestic abuse, so there's going to be multiple needs to consider in terms of the specific education deficit. There's a range of estimates out there about the potential widening of the achievement gap during this period of homeschooling. And they range from anything from one month to six months gap between the achievement of the lowest and highest income children, depending on the assumptions that people are making about the modelling. The education endowment fund have basically estimated this is equivalent to the undoing of all the work that's been done over the past decade to reduce these attainment gaps. So that's really quite significant. And we know that educational achievement and gaps in educational achievement are a really important part of how socioeconomic status and incomes are transferred across generations. So children from more affluent families typically are achieving higher grades at school and then this is typically higher awarded in the labour market. as well. So this is an important part of the story for future social ability.
Vivienne Parry 17:05
And that's deeply depressing. What about between high achievers? And not so high achievers, in families with low incomes? Is there going to be an impact on them? Is it going to be the people who have children are the lowest achievers who do worse compared to the higher achievers in that group?
Lindsey Macmillan 17:25
I think that really all depends on the context of the situation that they're in. To be honest with you, Vivienne, it's it's difficult to, to separate out all the different factors that are coming into play there. You could have children in situations where they've got parents who are not necessarily working at the moment who have more time to dedicate to helping them out. But equally, you could have children in situations where their parents are key workers or holding down multiple jobs and have very limited time to be able to help them through. And as we've already discussed, there's there's a big difference in resources. So it's not enough necessarily the case that the high achieving low income students are going to be able to just take themselves away and get on with things. You know, it's, it's not clear to me how that's gonna pan out in this situation.
Vivienne Parry 18:11
It looks like most exams are being cancelled now, except for the 11 plus entrance exams, which are apparent to go ahead in September. What's this going to mean for children taking the exam and for social mobility more broadly?
Lindsey Macmillan 18:24
Yes, this is a really concerning thing at the moment. So, as we know, all other exams have been cancelled, but there hasn't been any announcement about changes to the 11 plus entrance exam. So there is a real chance that some current year five peoples who are under a period of intense homeschooling are going to go back to school and face this access exam to selected grammar schools in September. We we know already from previous cohorts that there's large inequalities in access to grammar schools, and that's even when you're comparing children with similar achievement at age 11. So, if you compare two children who are high attaining in key stage to test for example, the children from more affluent families are 45 percentage points more likely to attend to grammar schools and children from the more deprived families. And that's with the same achievement age 11. There's many reasons for this. But a lot of it is to do with the extra resources, the more affluent families invest in their children to get them ready for the 11 Plus, including investment in additional tutoring, which is something that we've already seen from the Sutton trust, which is, which is happening to a greater extent during lockdown in more affluent families compared to more deprived families. So you can imagine on returning to school, and from what I said already about the widening achievement gap that we're likely to see that this is going to have a really possibly very detrimental impact on children from low income families in those areas who are trying to access grammar schools next year. We've made some suggestions based on the evidence available, one of which is that they could consider actually contextualising, the URL at the 11 plus schools this year, to take into account these types of penalties that these children are facing universities already do this. This is kind of a common practice that contextualising offers to students across higher education. So we're asking the question of why this can't be done in the 11 plus setting this year to try and really mitigate some of these rather damaging impacts.
Vivienne Parry 20:32
And is there anything else Lindsay that government could be doing to try and ensure greater equality? You know, perhaps, in relation to home learning? I mean, I think you mentioned that there was a plan for more equipments to be made available to low income households.
Lindsey Macmillan 20:49
Sure, to be fair to the Cabinet Office and Department for Education. They have been listening and there has been this offer of laptops and internet connections to disadvantaged students. Although there is some feedback Coming out of this scheme might not be as generous as It first appeared. According to teachers on the ground, as a teacher have pointed out to us earlier this week, there's also the concern that this is particularly targeted at pupil premium, pupils, those more or less in receipt of free school meals. There's also a group of children, you know, just above this, who are also unlikely to have access to resources who wouldn't necessarily qualify for that scheme. So So these things are never really perfect in that sense. I think it's important to recognise that we can't really replace no matter what we try and do as parents, the amazing work that teachers do. So we need to have a plan, a plan in place for when we go back to try and catch the kids up and you asked an important question there about where do they start to they assume that nothing has been done during lockdown or do they try and talk tailor interventions to every child's needs. Crucially, they need funding to support this an extended Premium of some kind will be a good start. I think there needs to be a long term commitment to this and the way that there has been commitments to other sectors so that schools can reliably plan potentially to hire more staff to offer the kind of one to one interventions that are likely to be most effective in catching up those children who are most in need at this time.
Vivienne Parry 22:20
Thanks very much as in if there's one silver lining to all of this is it's that parents now absolutely appreciate what teachers do. I've lost count of the number of people who say, okay, they do this all day. I'd have an extraordinary respect.
Lindsey Macmillan 22:40
I had a nice conversation with my son's reception teacher the other day that when exactly along those lines, I said, I do not know how you deal with.
Vivienne Parry 22:53
So let's now switch from the students to the teachers. I want to ask Rob, what teachers and teachers Shouldn't assistants do to help their students during lockdown? But before you answer Let me tell you that you're listening to Coronavirus. The whole story a podcast brought to you by UCL Minds. And if there's a question about Coronavirus, you'd like our researchers to answer please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at UCL.
So let's get back to that question, Rob. What are they doing to help students?
Rob Webster 23:33
I think teachers and teaching systems are both in different places with this at the moment. So in terms of what they've been doing, obviously, there's been we've heard quite a lot of moving to online teaching and I think it has an A word it is varying across across the sector and across schools in terms of teachers delivering online lessons that I get the sense that these that the more sort of common approaches for teachers to be preparing work and putting it online. And students and families are sort of accessing that as and when they can. And as Lindsay was indicating the kind of rates at which those are being accessed and then turned around, are varying across different social economic groups, but teaching assistants in a sense, they're in a very different place because they, they're they've kind of been furloughed in a way not in the sort of the sense that the government would perhaps have it but they are their work is centred around supporting the most disadvantaged children and particularly those children with special educational needs. And a lot of that work happens on a one to one basis and that's a that's very, very difficult to move that kind of work online. So I'm sure there will be particularly special schools where teaching assistants outnumber teachers. There will be teaching assistants working in those settings and there will be ta is going into mainstream schools as well. Supporting but a lot of them don't have any sort of hard data. On this bit of sensors, a lot of them will be just sort of sat, sat at home. And a waiting, I think will be the bigger challenge that there is. And that's what happens when the schools reopen.
Vivienne Parry 25:13
And what sort of support should teaching assistants in particular get at that time? I mean, there'll be a huge job to be done. Yeah,
Rob Webster 25:22
absolutely massive. I mean, I don't want to in any way sound complacent about this, but I do. One thing that has concerned me the last couple of weeks is the energy that's going in particularly from teachers to try and almost preempt the learning gaps at the moment. And I don't want to suggest for a moment that any of that effort is is wasted. It's not that we really don't have don't really have the data, the resources, the opportunities, etc, to really identify and tackle this this gap until the school is reopened. And I appreciate that's probably quite a difficult question. bass in which to to find ourselves at the the kind of bigger challenge to come is one that we can't do a huge amount about at the moment. Lindsay's indicated already that some of the the learning gaps or the extent of the learning gap could be quite big, you know, everyday that disadvantaged children on schools, that gap is going to be widening. And I think that I would like to see school leaders in particular thinking about how they plan to meet those learning gaps and do the sort of gap identification of where the gaps are and how they're going to be narrowing when the school is open. Because I think teaching assistants are going to be a huge part of that story. If just to give you a sense of this, we have about a quarter just over a quarter of our school's workforce are working as teaching assistants, if you subdued individual head count of the number of teachers that there are in the system is equivalent to something like the population of Iceland, you know, we have a huge number of ta is empty in our primary schools by a third of the workforce. So there's a huge amount of potential there. And I see them as being quite pivotal to what happens next, in terms of helping schools to narrow those gaps that have opened up.
Vivienne Parry 27:16
So from what all of you are saying, and do butt in, Zachary and, Lindsay, if you haven't thought about this, from what you're saying, it's not so much that you are going to start at the beginning and assume everybody's done nothing, but that you're going to have to individually assess what the gaps are. And the gaps might be in advantage tower cells as much as in disadvantage cells where some people have just thought, fantastic. It's the summer holidays already. And parents have been unable to crack the whip and I suspect this may have been a lot of tantrums before bedtime about getting schoolwork done, and it's not been done. So do you start from the very beginning again? Or do you do that gap assessment? Let's start with you, Rob on that.
Rob Webster 28:16
I think I think schools are pretty good at this anyway, in terms of identifying where where the gaps are I, I think the is the next part of that, I think is it needs to be really carefully thought through and that is what you do about it, that in terms of the interventions that you identify that you might need to put in all the teaching that you might need to do and how you organise that as well. So it's very common, if you like for teaching assistants to you to deliver intervention programmes to groups of children who are falling behind. They tend to do that outside of the classroom. Now, it's worth saying that one of the reasons why I think teaching systems are a big part of what happens next is because there is a lot I have very good evidence that when you deploy teaching assistants to do that work, train them to do it. To deliver these intervention programmes, kids do make progress. And then that can be anything up to two or three months additional progress depending on the intervention. And the kind of subject is numeracy or its phonics or reading or something, but but how you actually deliver that in school is going to be the really important thing. So there is there might be here, this is a kind of word of warning. I think if you like to school leaders in particular, that there might be an idea here that you sort of deploy, you train up your, your army of teaching assistants and you get the pupils who are falling behind on a carousel of interventions so that they are making up that, that making that progress, making sure that the gaps that have opened up though they've been closed as quickly as rapidly as possible, but the problems there are things to be thinking about is that Your time doing interventions, there's also time out of class, it might be time away from the subjects that those children enjoy the most. So there's a kind of wider issue or challenge, if you like of implementation here that the school is needed. school leaders need to be thinking about in terms of how they integrate these really impactful ways of doing catch up with the the general business, which is they've got to get back to teaching and learning again, through the curriculum and preparing children for life and learning.
Vivienne Parry 30:32
Zachary, what are your thoughts on that?
Zachary Walker 30:34
Again, I think this gives us a real chance to think about education as a whole moving forward. I mean, if we can put all this content online, you know, we talk about oftentimes supporting the learners who struggle in some ways, but I think there's another whole subset that we're forgetting, and these are the kids that are bored in school. These are the kids that maybe if you put all their math lessons online, they would just zoom Write through them because they love math. And I think there's a real opportunity here for us to put content online to see where students are to constantly be evaluating to use, you know, that that teaching assistant to help support one student, but also to have a teacher who, you know, can spend a little bit more time with the student who really excels in, in something or, or to do more peer teaching. And I think this idea that we have to stay regimented, and everybody has to move through the system together. This is a, you know, that's a century old. And so for people who say, Oh, well, this is kind of the new normal with teaching. I think it's easy to forget that, you know, we've had this technology we've been capable of teaching online for the last 15 to 20 years. So for us to actually be able to do this now when people have actually been forced to do it. I'm hoping will really open up some opportunities for all of our students and all of our stuff to really kind of redefine and think about how we can move Effectively individualised education.
Vivienne Parry 32:03
Now what pupils have been missing, probably the most is a socialising you know, being with their friends. And yet when everybody goes back, there's going to be social distancing. Perhaps there's going to be PPE. And I wonder Lindsey, what schools can do to rebuild their communities when lockdown ends? Any thoughts?
Lindsey Macmillan 32:26
yeah, this is a tough one. Vivienne. I think we're all wondering how on earth staff and you know, the wider school communities are going to function under social distancing. You know, as a mother of a five year old and a three year old, there's no way you're going to be able to socially distance my children when they see their friends again, for the first time after many months. I think it's going to be a real challenge on top of all the other challenges that schools are facing right now,
Vivienne Parry 32:50
and actually just interrupt a second is it's made even worse by the fact that we don't know the biology. So we know that children are not badly affected by Coronavirus But we don't know how many of them are affected, and whether they're passing it on to parents and grandparents and whether they're this big factor. So, you know, while that the biology remains unknown, it has this impact on education.
Lindsey Macmillan 33:16
Yeah, I think there's, you know, at risk of speaking outside of my subject area here, there is a big kind of push to get schools back and running. And I know a lot of teachers that came for this as well as, you know, people outside of the teaching sector who are currently juggling, you know, kids at home as well as full time jobs, etc. but but I do think, you know, we've got a real responsibility here to the teaching profession and to the sustainability of education moving forward, to be very careful about what we're doing. The situation is one in which as you've just said, we don't understand how this spreads necessarily among children, and we need to protect our workforce as much as anything else. teachers do enough. They've got enough stress To deal with without having to add to it through this kind of unknown risk that they might be facing. And I worry about the future of the teaching profession, if that's what we're doing for teachers.
Vivienne Parry 34:10
Let me get back to Rob now, because I just as our final question, I want to ask each of you, I mean, we've had this extraordinary shock to the system. Now, is there anything that you think we can or should do to help with large scale remote education? Should we ever go forbid, find ourselves in a situation again, Rob, I suppose
Rob Webster 34:36
it's come up already. It's this sort of digital divide. If you're going to move teaching online or more or more access to it, then you have to make sure that people as families, the pupils have got access to the resources to do that. So they've got the equipment and they've got the broadband, I mean that there will be other things as well. It might be other things that will be outside of education is control, such as Do they have a room in the house where they can go and work quietly? So I suppose I sort of, to answer your your question, I'd kind of look a little bit more widely, I think I mean, lots of people are already kind of thinking about the opportunities that are there to sort of remake education off of this experience. And I think, I think perhaps me, it kind of goes a bit wider than that. And we wouldn't want to kind of fall into the trap either of thinking that education has got to solve all of society's problems.
Vivienne Parry 35:39
Zachary, you've already mentioned actually, that online learning might be particularly valuable for children who are good at one particular subject that they can, you know, race through those modules, anything else that you think that we should be doing to help with this large scale remote education?
Zachary Walker 35:59
Yeah, I mean, I think I think that's one example. I think it can also be good for, you know, students with disabilities who struggle a bit more, who can, again, self paced a little bit more, they can watch a video three times instead of only hearing a live lecture from their teacher once. I mean, those are incredibly valuable pieces of the puzzle as well. I think overall, what what this has done is not necessarily exposed a flawed system, but what it has exposed is some real possibility. And I think that there's three main things and you know, you touched on one already, when you said, you know, how many parents are realising the teachers are so valuable. I think what we have to do is, you know, when we get through this, you know, parents work with teachers and teachers work with parents, let's let's come together so that we're working together on some of these things. And I think, you know, as Lindsay mentioned, it's nice that they're funding the laptops now, but we've got to get, we've got to get it to where we're funding education. Throughout and funding professional development, I lived in Singapore for six years, and every teacher in Singapore gets 100 hours per year of professional development. And so I think this idea again, teaching online and teaching virtually is not a new thing. But it has never been funded appropriately. So when these kinds of things do come up in the future, we weren't prepared for them. So I'm hoping that what this does is really expose the possibilities. And then we can be creative and we can be thoughtful, moving forward, so that every teacher and every student therefore has the has the ability to really do meaningful work that's important and impactful for them.
Vivienne Parry 37:40
Lindsey, final word from you on that.
Lindsey Macmillan 37:43
So I'm going to be slightly more negative unfortunately, which is perhaps not a great way to end this but I worry intensely about the move towards large scale remote education because of all the inequalities that we discussed. I don't I mean, I, while we can obviously try and be positive about this and do Some of the things that we've mentioned, broadband, for example, should be a necessity and something that everyone should have access to, as well as having, you know, access to your own computers at home. But, you know, we're very far away from that situation right now. And as Zachary just said, you know, you need Sustained funding to enable that kind of setup to be put in place. But I also think more generally, you can't teach without teachers. So you need to be in a position where you've got someone you know, that would that one to one interaction is very hard to, to replace, I think. And so I'm not entirely sure that this kind of model, you know, and perhaps I'm just seeing it within the kind of confines of what we're dealing with right now. But I'm not sure that it's something we should be aiming for, you know, moving forward. As Rob said, you know, there is a there is a role for schools already and we shouldn't expect education to solve all of society's problems, there should be a point at which you know, there there are wider answers to Rather than just you know, this should be another thing that we load on schools and teachers.
Vivienne Parry 39:05
Yes, and of course scholastic education is only one part of the experience of school. There's so much else that students get from school. It's being with friends, it's it's their development as people. It's there are so many other things that require being together rather than alone. So to conclude this week's podcast, let me just say that you have been listening to Coronavirus the whole story. This episode was presented by myself Vivian Perry produced by UCL with support for the UCL health of the public and UCL grand challenges and edited by Charisse Bradley. Our guests today were Dr. Zachary Walker, Professor Lindsey Macmillan and Dr. Rob Webster, to whom thank you very much because you've been splendid guests. If you'd like to hear more of these podcasts and UCL Minds Subscribe wherever you download your podcasts or you can visit ucl.ac.uk forward slash Coronavirus. This podcast is brought to you by UCL Minds, bringing together UCL knowledge, insights and expertise through events, digital content and activities that are open to everyone. Bye for now.
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