Only 9 percent of UK teachers felt prepared for online teaching

By Gemma Coleman. Posted

A new report from the Open Data Institute outlines the impact the pandemic has had on teachers’ lives in the UK

In March 2021, the Open Data Institute (ODI) published a report exploring the impact of the pandemic on the teaching workforce in the UK. The report analysed survey data with just under 4,500 respondents from a major UK teacher union, as well as other open and publicly available current and historical data. It investigates teachers’ preparedness for remote teaching; their change in workload; estimates of learning losses in their pupils; and the likely influence of these experiences on staying in the teaching profession.

Preparation for online teaching

Overall, teacher preparedness for remote learning, and feelings of support within this new learning environment, were low. The report found that only 9 percent of teachers who had been teaching remotely felt well prepared for online learning, with this dipping to 3 percent for special education teachers. This is perhaps not surprising given the speed of physical school closures and the fact that there was no national policy on how to implement virtual learning, with schools and teachers having to learn new skills and acquire new equipment and software incredibly quickly and under huge pressure.

Workload

The average working week increased to 52 hours for full-time teachers. This increase was largely attributed to the challenges of remote teaching. Teachers had to spend large amounts of time scripting and recording lessons and thinking of ways to make their lessons creative and engaging in this new medium. Many teachers also faced the challenge of balancing remote lessons with in-person lessons for children of key workers, and the additional classroom management time this posed. Over half of teachers interviewed attributed these extra hours to their increased pastoral duties, such as delivering food parcels and learning materials to vulnerable pupils.

Learning losses

The survey reports that 59 percent of teachers felt at least half of their pupils had suffered academically during the pandemic and that this was worse for primary-aged children and schools in deprived areas. Teachers felt much of this stemmed from a lack of engagement with online lessons, as well as a lack of parental support in some cases.

Despite the stresses and difficulties of the past year, there has been a decline in the proportion of teachers considering leaving their job or the profession. This may, of course, be a result of an uncertain job market, but the data suggests that teachers were, on average, enjoying their jobs more, due to their increased autonomy and a reduction in performance management. 

The ODI hopes that these findings will be used to inform the pandemic response and support future education research and policy making. You can read the full report here: helloworld.cc/ODIreport


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