Voice Community members reflect on experiences of online learning

In February we asked Voice Community members to share some experiences of lockdown and their hopes and fears for the future of education. We want to thank everyone who shared their thoughts and experiences with us. Today we’re sharing some of the interim findings from that survey.  

It was particularly interesting to hear about our members’ experiences of teaching and learning online. 68% of our members who responded to the survey had been required to undertake online teaching or support remote learning in some way. This was consistent across independent, local authority and academy or free schools.  

An overwhelming 92% of our members in the sector disagreed or strongly disagreed that online learning is just as good as learning in person.  

Many of our members made the best of a difficult situation, with 82% reporting that they had learned tools and techniques that they would use in the future. However, less positively, only 30% of members had been given appropriate training to prepare them for online learning.  And while 62% of members had the equipment they needed to support online learning, that still left more than 1 in 3 without. 

It wasn’t just staff left without equipment. Around 26% of our members students did not have the equipment needed to work remotely.  And only around half of those students who did not have their own device were able to be provided one by their school, college, university, or nursery.  

With talk in some circles of hybrid learning models being used in future, we took note when 63% of our members told us they didn’t think that it was a good idea. 

Also of interest was the finding that 78% of members believe that online learning increases the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged learners. We’ll continue to explore this in our research into the future of education.  

In our response to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) on teachers’ pay, we shared what members have told us, emphasising the pressures members have all been under through the past 12 months, and highlighted the importance of time away from work for members in recovering our mental and physical health. We stressed that our members have been working hard throughout the pandemic, and that despite the closures of schools and nurseries to pupils, many of you have been working harder than ever.  

Our members also told us that health and safety is a real concern todayWe were pleased to see in this survey that around 69% of members feel safe at work, up from 54% back in December. But that still leaves un unacceptable 1 in 3 feeling unsafe. If you are a member of Voice Community, please do get in touch with us for help and advice if you have a specific safety concern you would like to discuss.  

Some of the most common measures in place in our members workplaces were social distancing, face coverings for staff, additional hygiene facilities, staggered start and finish times, regular testing of staff, reduced learner numbers and deep cleaning systems. We know that good practice is being implemented and shared across schools and workplaces.   

Finally, we hope that sharing the experiences of members across the union serves as a reminder that throughout this difficult year, many of our members in the education and early years sector have faced similar challenges. By standing together we can share our experiences and try to make things better for the future. 

If you have any questions or want to raise any ideas, please contact research@community-tu.org. Look out for our forthcoming research report on the future of education where we’ll present the final findings of our research and explore policy recommendations for making your working lives better.    

Respondents to the survey came from all four nations, with the following breakdown: 10.4% Scotland, 0.5% Northern Ireland, 4.46% Wales and the remaining 84.65% from England.

If you are a member of Community and need help or advice, please contact us at help@community-tu.org or on 0800 389 6332.

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