Lessons from the pandemic

Post pandemic, it’s become a more integral part of day-to-day learning. Enforced home schooling during a string of

lockdowns has forced and accelerated the take- up of virtual learning, with even the most nervous and reluctant teachers having to adopt and adapt to an increased use of tech – driving education several years further ahead than where we would have been otherwise. DfE funding at the start of the pandemic saw

the use of virtual solutions from the likes of Google and Microsoft rolled out - software previously associated with the corporate world now being cascaded into schools and adapted to teaching and learning. While it’s not to everyone’s taste - both from


n our first look at the use of software in schools this month, we’re delighted to hear

from Amanda Defreitas, Head of IT at SIPS Education, who examines the changing role of the software we use in schools and what lessons IT and education professionals have learned from the last 12 months.

There’s no denying the growth of virtual learning that has been sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of technology and software in schools

is the most obvious example of pandemic- accelerated change; while tech has always been there in education, for most schools it had previously played more of a supplementary role.

the perspectives of teachers and pupils - technology has opened up lots of doors, and there will be many ways in which hybrid learning [a combination of face-to-face and online teaching] will appear in classrooms for years to come. Necessity is the mother of invention - and this

has never been truer than in the last 12 months. So what lessons have we learned - both good

and bad? As a supplier of IT services to over 250 schools

across 14 local authorities, we’ve witnessed first- hand the revolution which has swept schools and academies across the country - and picked up plenty of new best practices along the way.

Pupils At the sharp end of education are the pupils - and, along with the teaching staff, they were the


guinea pigs who were asked to road test this new way of learning back in Spring 2020. Software such as Microsoft Teams allowed SIPS and our schools network to almost instantly roll-out online learning - be that setting and assessing assignments, holding live lessons or giving students access to the resources they need (more of which later). While it’s fantastic to mobilise a whole new

way of learning almost overnight, there are lessons to be learned; one of the biggest challenges was getting equipment parachuted into pupils’ homes (as well as teachers and our own staff) - in the last lockdown at the start of 2021, we configured almost 2,000 laptops and tablets to equip pupils for home schooling. Sadly, that didn’t tackle the issue in the more

deprived areas, where parents and children were not as tech savvy as their more affluent neighbours, for whom technology was already far more readily available and accessible. A survey last year by the Institute of Fiscal

Studies found that children from better-off families were spending 30% more time on home learning than are those from poorer families. Virtual learning has been fundamental in

minimising the disruption to children’s education during the pandemic, but that’s not to say there aren’t drawbacks – and further software developments in the future need to focus on ensuring there are more failsafes and that technology is far more intuitive, especially for those not exposed to it on a daily basis. Online teaching is widening the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students, because

June 2021

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