This report gives our recommendations for the next phase of education planning, on the basis of a survey of 704 teachers across the UK; 79.8% of responses were from teachers in Scotland. The survey is still open and can be accessed at: https://glasgow-research.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/teachers- responses-to-COVID-19 2. On the capacity of children’s services, teachers expressed serious concerns for the mental and physical wellbeing of children. 38.9% of teachers expect many more of their children to be labelled at risk or have interventions from social services by the end of the lockdown, and this rises to 68.4% for teachers working with more deprived populations. (Further details on p.7-10) Factors of concern include emotional neglect, unemployment, family breakdown, bereavement, loss of friendships and routine, lack of physical activity and food insecurity. 3. On the support available for pupils during closure, again mental health and safety feature as significant concerns. While teachers were generally positively disposed to providing online learning, only 28.3% of teachers feel prepared to meet the emotional and behavioural needs of students during closure, and only 38.2% believe their school’s pastoral support will be sufficient to address the challenges when schools re-open. 90.1% believe that more pastoral support will be needed when schools return, and 59.7% of teachers argue for a rebalancing of schools’ priorities away from examination results and towards pastoral care. Schools which already have a clear, compassionate and consistent ethos are better disposed to confront this challenge – with 59% of teachers in such schools agreeing their school’s pastoral support would be up to the challenge, and 94.4% agreeing that their school’s values and ethos will be more important than ever when schools reopen. 4. Very many teachers are hopeful that the current closure provides an opportunity for a more radical rethinking of the educational model in the UK. 81.8% of respondents have actively sought out CPD to improve their online teaching during the closure, and 78.1% expect that a new balance will need to be struck between the former model of face-to-face teaching and the online model which has rapidly emerged. Rather than seeing this as a contingency plan, we would urge the Department to consider how long-term change could be effected, with a focus on long-term restoration rather than short-term reopening. (Further detail on teachers’ expectations and aspirations is provided on p.12-16) 5. Recommendations: - (i) Education Scotland should work with mental health charities and researchers to develop, resource, implement and evaluate whole-school interventions aimed at improving mental health and wellbeing as the number one priority upon reopening schools. One such initiative is currently being developed by SAMH and the University of Glasgow. - (ii) Education Scotland and HMIe should highlight leading practice in whole-school pastoral support, and work with the sector to ensure there are adequate resources for all schools to rebalance their focus toward pastoral care. - (iii) Education Scotland and the GTCS should seek out enthusiastic teachers who are already championing innovation, invest substantially in research, innovation and restructuring aimed at a long-term rebalancing of education to retain the benefits of a hybrid in-person/online model aimed at preparing young people for the societal and economic challenges of the future. - (iv) Given that many of the factors impacting children’s mental health and wellbeing relate to wider economic and social uncertainty, it cannot be the job of education alone to mitigate the impacts of recession or societal collapse. Education Scotland needs to work with other branches of Government to focus on a more humane transition to the ‘new normal’; teachers are optimistic about these possibilities and can play a key role in this.


Copyright © 2020 The Authors

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Lundie, D. & Law, J. 2020, Teachers’ Responses and Expectations in the COVID-19 School Shutdown Period in the UK, University of Glasgow, College of Social Sciences. Available at: http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/221329/

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Last updated: 17 June 2022
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