Lessons learned: how the pandemic will shape future education

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A new report based on feedback from hundreds of teachers around the world highlights important lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic

More than 900 teachers shared their experiences with the International Council on Education for Teaching (ICET) and charity MESHGuides, with common themes emerging across more than 30 countries.

Steve Hall, a Senior Lecturer in Education at Staffordshire University who helped to conduct the study, explained: “Teachers, schools and communities have shown incredible innovation and determination to reach out to support their learners during the pandemic. Where online access was limited or unavailable, radio, telephone as well as hand-delivered learning resources were used to keep in touch with their learners.

“As children return to schools it is an ideal opportunity to reflect on what has worked well and what hasn’t. By inviting teachers at all levels of education to share their knowledge, understanding and insight we can better prepare for future crises and ensure continuity of learning.”

Teachers surveyed across low, medium and high-income countries identified five main challenges for sustaining education during times of crisis. These are:

  • Government leadership
  • Limitations with online and teaching and learning
  • Teaching practical subjects
  • Loss of learning and increased dropout rates
  • Equity and students and teacher access to technology, internet and electricity

Teachers offered many ideas for being better prepared for future crises so that teaching, learning and assessment can continue. This includes the need to redress inequity due to school closures and to implement “technological literacy for all” policies. They also highlighted a need for more national online resources for teachers and learners, similar to Scotland’s Glow which offers a digital environment to support learning across the whole curriculum.

Mental health was also a key concern and participants suggested creating and maintaining pedagogical and professional support networks and to put policies in place that address better support teachers and students in terms of wellbeing, time management, stress levels.

Steve said: “Despite the overwhelming impact on their mental health, teachers across the continents were generally very positive about the new skills and knowledge they acquired. This presents an opportunity for countries to consider the long-term future for online supported teaching as part of their plans for raising achievement.

“However, there is a huge digital divide and teachers are calling for countries to establish free and open access to public broadband and better provision of technology. Parental support is also key to education during crises, but a large portion of parents are technologically illiterate and so there is a need to upskill the wider public.

“To do this, our teachers identified that governments and leaders need to be dynamic, flexible and prepared to support the education sector during crises.”

In support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 4c, focused on improving the quality of education for all children, the report authors question whether universal access to learning materials, via the internet or satellite communications, could be seen alongside access to clean water, food, education and health care as core goals for all governments.

The authors aim to disseminate their findings to as many stakeholders as possible, and plan to make the report openly available for researchers, students, policy makers, organisations to use the findings to inform their own research and policy.

Steve added: “There are a lot positives to come out of this very difficult and dark situation that we mustn’t lose sight of and the challenge now is maintaining that momentum. The question is, what value will be placed on the voice of teachers?

“Our research shows a clear need for decisive leadership from government and we hope that those charged with planning for education in the future will learn from this experience.”

The final report Teacher Experiences and Practices during Covid-19 will be made available later in the year. To obtain a copy of the interim report or to request an interview please contact Steve Hall directly on S.J.Hall@staffs.ac.uk.

Amy Platts

Media Communications Officer

t: 01782 292702

m: 07799 341911


Staffordshire University is the Connected University; connected to the needs of students, academic partners, business and society. Our main city campus in Stoke-on-Trent features excellent learning and teaching facilities and good transport links. We have specialist Centres of Excellence in Healthcare Education at Stafford and Shrewsbury.  

We were recognised with a Gold award in the 2019 Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) for delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for students.  

We were shortlisted for University of the Year at the THE Awards 2020 and were named ‘Midlands University of the Year’ at the Midlands Business Awards 2020. 
Staffordshire University has signed up to the Civic University Agreement, pledging to play a leading role in improving the regional economy and enhancing quality of life in local communities. We were recognised in the top 15 for social inclusion in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021. We aim to be a leading university for digital technologies building on our proud computing heritage and in 2019 launched Staffordshire University London’s Digital Institute which is committed to preparing students for careers in new and emerging tech industries. 

We are a Top 250 Young University (Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2020) and are connected globally, with more than 11,000 people studying Staffordshire University degrees overseas.