What will Wanstead look like in a post-COVID-19 world? In the third of a series of articles, Chair of Wanstead Society Scott Wilding, who is exploring these issues as part of his job, offers his thoughts
Dealing with the new normal of a post-COVID-19 world is still a challenge for all of us. The virus has not gone away; people are still dying from this disease. And we all find ourselves coping with the challenges of daily life in many different ways.
As each month progresses, the lockdown which has dominated our lives begins to ease. Last month, we were able to get a haircut and go to the pub for the first time in months. The economy, and with it our lives, is beginning to open up again.
This series of articles seeks to examine what life will likely be like in the ‘new normal’. Lockdown brought many challenges, but a huge one was home schooling.
Some pupils never left during lockdown, while others did get some education just before the summer holidays. But all pupils will be required to attend school from next month.
Lockdown shone a light for many parents on what it’s like to be teacher, but also the benefits of smaller class sizes and one-to-one teaching.
Average class sizes in England are around 30 pupils, but in lockdown that was halved – or even more so – for those who were able to attend school. The benefits of smaller classes have shown that pupils get more bespoke learning experiences and can do better as a result.
Lessons that did take place were often held outside in a more informal environment with an emphasis on practical activities. This style of learning has shown both pupils and staff that a new way of learning – that takes pupils away from purely desk-based study – is not only possible but can improve the overall educational experience. The UK is one of very few countries that places such a high emphasis on desk-based learning, and perhaps this experiment in education has shown what else is on offer.
The challenge for schools and the government will be to capture the positives. No one can suddenly double the number of class sizes, and teaching staff, by next month. And as we approach winter, outside lessons become less likely.
But lockdown has at least shown what could be possible. And if we are to take some of the good bits from the last few months, and take time to pause and consider which parts of our ‘old’ life we want back, has this not been an opportunity to rethink how we educate our children? Although, for most parents I know, they are looking forward to having their kids return to school in September, whichever way lessons are taught.