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May 21 BigDug
May 21 BigDug

Education reform – Why it’s time for a change of approach post-Covid

May 17, 2021, 11:31 GMT+1
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  • Ruth Luzmore believes we have to think differently about education following the Covid-19 pandemic...
Education reform – Why it’s time for a change of approach post-Covid

It’s been a very difficult year for everyone due to Covid-19, especially in education.

Teachers and children have had to learn how to do things differently. I think that now we’re at a point where we should be having a discussion about the purpose of education. We can look back at the past, see what’s happened before and the ideals that have gone through time.

Now, as a profession, we have an opportunity to consider, and influence, change ahead. We have got to a point where we feel we are almost stuck in the system we’ve been in.

Over the last year we have seen massive change that we never thought possible. So clearly you can change the system. Exams and SATs at the end of Key Stage 2 disappeared, all these things that we thought were the be all and end all.

And what has been the impact? Did the world end? I think that gives us an opportunity to look at what we actually want from an education system and how that feeds into our society. Our system has very much been inspired by the Industrial Revolution.

The basis is you get a good job, contribute to the economy and get a better life. I would like to see education focused more on creating citizens. Will the grades and the job that you get mean you’ll lead a happy and fulfilled life? I think we should be looking at how we develop as a person and how to make good decisions.

Assessment changes

If we are going to change anything it is the assessment process, how we assess children and for what purpose. I have absolutely no problem with children taking assessments at the end of their school life.

What I think is important is how that data is used and whether it is useful in any way, shape or form. Who is it useful for? Is it useful for the child or useful for the secondary school? Is the secondary school using that data?

Is it a really good picture of that child, will it help that child make good progress in secondary school? I don’t have a problem with testing but, considering we just had two years of not having them, now is an ideal opportunity to ask, are we going to go back to that?

We should also take a look at the curriculum in primary schools and there has been a big focus on that recently. I think it’s great that Ofsted has talked about a broad and balanced curriculum.

But we should do more, I would be in favour of an approach similar to the International Baccalaureate, which is not subject based but is more around themes and looking at being a citizen from a younger age.

It is still important to have really good knowledge, but we also should be teaching children from a younger age how to question things. There should also be an emphasis on the natural world around us and physical health.

Things like forest schools are great, getting your children out and about, but how can we translate that into inner city schools? We need children to have a connection with, and learn about, the natural world to understand about our impact on the environment.

Physical education and outdoor learning

Also physical activity is even more important after the year we’ve had and I’ve really changed my views on how we look and balanced curriculum.

But we should do more, I would be in favour of an approach similar to the International Baccalaureate, which is not subject based but is more around themes and looking at being a citizen from a younger age.

It is still important to have really good knowledge, but we also should be teaching children from a younger age how to question things. There should also be an emphasis on the natural world around us and physical health.

Things like forest schools are great, getting your children out and about, but how can we translate that into inner city schools? We need children to have a connection with, and learn about, the natural world to understand about our impact on the environment.

Physical health and mental wellbeing

Also physical activity is even more important after the year we’ve had and I’ve really changed my views on how we look after physical health at school. We do a lot of sport at my school, at least two really good hours. But other schools may not.

After going through this pandemic, it has raised concerns over physical health and how we look after our bodies. Especially with all those children stuck inside and not getting out and about. We need to refocus on that.

When we reopened, I said to my staff don’t worry about doing your full lessons at the same time. If the children need to go out and run, or you want to go out and play a game with them, get them outside and get them moving. Because the physical side also leads to mental wellbeing.


Ruth Luzmore is headteacher at St Mary Magdalene Academy Primary School and co-author, with Chris Brown, of Educating Tomorrow Learning for the Post-Pandemic World.