This week The Times launched its year-long Education Commission, looking to examine the future of education, and also revealed that the way children play has changed since the beginning of the pandemic.

 

Children playing outside less and alone more since the pandemic

A survey from Save The Children found that children are spending less time playing outside with their friends and playing alone more. The research revealed that nine out of ten children felt that play had changed since the beginning of the pandemic. In response, charities and businesses in the UK have joined forces to support a summer of play and are taking the #SummerOfPlay pledge, urging the government to focus less on academic catch up, and instead, prioritise children’s play and opportunities to socialise during the summer holidays. Read more about the pledge in The Guardian.

 

The Times launches its Education Commission

This week, The Times launched its Education Commission to examine the future of education in light of Covid-19, declining social mobility, new technologies and the changing nature of work.

Recent research shows parents’ attitudes toward the current education system, with 60% of parents saying they don’t think that school days should be extended, and most do not believe schools adequately prepare children for life or the workplace.  Justine Greening, the former Conservative education secretary told the commission that ‘the education system does not deliver…because it’s so focused on exams”. This is further explored in this piece, which outlines Lucy Kellaway, a former journalist who has switched careers to teaching, opinion, that the exam system is disadvantaging her students and discouraging children’s curiosity.

Montessori Centre International has called for an end to base-line testing for children, and backs a re-evaluation of examinations for older students as well. Assessments are proven to impact children’s wellbeing negatively and makes the learning environment stressful, rather than exciting and curiosity-provoking. We hope the pandemic will be a chance to take a new view on education and make room for creativity and discovery in the classroom.

The commission is keen to hear from readers with views on the future of education. Written submissions can be sent to educationcommission@thetimes.co.uk

 

Children failed with lack of pandemic plan

The Evening Standard shared a report from the Commons Public Account Committee, that found that the Department for Education (DfE) had no plan for Covid, and schools acting on their own were “quicker and better” at dealing with the pandemic than the Government. The report also highlighted that the targeted elements of the Government’s £1.7 Billion catch-up programme to make up for lost learning, may not be reaching the most disadvantaged pupils. The report concludes that the DfE had “no plan for handling disruption of this kind and was unprepared for dealing with the challenges of the pandemic.” You can read more about the report here and the DfE’s response.