“Necessity is the mother of invention.” Plato, ancient Greek philosopher.
This was certainly true during the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent UK-wide lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. Not least of which were the inventions needed to keep our children and young people safe and educated.
The education community in the UK rose to the challenges brought about by lockdowns with innovative solutions, such as digital learning, project-based exam assessments and virtual parents’ evenings.
2022 will be a time for rectifying any damage done during this difficult time. Educators will need to focus on catch-up-learning, the mental health fallout, and the importance of using technology in the classroom.
How the pandemic affected the Education sector this year
Throughout 2021, the Education sector was highly affected by COVID-19 testing and isolating requirements, class bubbles, and school closures. This level of change caused anxiety for many involved, be it pupils, parents, Teachers, Head Teachers, Teaching Assistants, and all other school staff.
A Young Minds survey found that 74% of school staff agree that young people’s mental health was negatively impacted during school closures. Reversing these effects will continue to be an important part of Education going forwards.
The impact of the COVID-19 prevention requirements on young people, their Education and mental health, will most likely continue to unfold for many years to come. Teachers played a pivotal role in establishing continuity, stability, trust, and constancy by creating routines within the mandatory home learning.
Throughout the pandemic induced lockdowns, Teachers and Teaching Assistants (TA) were pivotal in providing in-person education for vulnerable young people and the children of critical keyworkers, allowing them to keep working.
In 2021 the government pledged £1.7 billion to support children in Education across the UK. The Department for Education (DfE) supported teaching professionals who were delivering remote learning during this difficult time with the delivery of 1.3 million free laptops to disadvantaged pupils. To reduce the COVID-19 infection rates, 4 million test results were reported by schools in 2021, and the introduction of Teacher Assessed Grade (TAG) Systems for AS and A levels, GCSEs and BTECs meant that no exams were needed.
Education jobs this year
In 2021 those working in Education saw an increase in the use of technology to facilitate online learning and create digital classrooms. There was also a rise in the number of educational apps available, project-based learning and experiential learning became widespread, with the use of video content, nanolearning, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies coming into the classroom.
Permanent jobs availability was slow at the beginning of 2021, but demand has been on the rise since September. Job opportunities in Primary Schools, Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and tutoring saw an increase in demand, particularly in 121 support. Cover Supervisors and Teaching Assistants (TAs) were needed to manage classes so that key worker children could attend in-person lessons.
A pay freeze for all public-sector workers was introduced during the pandemic and many Headteachers are concerned that schools will only be able to cover Teacher pay rises by reducing their spending elsewhere or by going into deficit. Supply Teacher roles saw a small increase in salaries, caused by demand in that area.
2021 also saw an increase in educational job opportunities throughout the UK. There is currently a national shortage of Teachers, and recruitment is targeting Teachers with specialist subject areas such as science, modern languages, and Religious Education (RE). Due to a rise in the number of secondary pupils, Secondary schools in Yorkshire, Humberside and the southwest of the country are needing more Teachers.
Looking ahead to 2022
Catching up on missed education will be the driving force for educators in 2022. The DfE have set out a plan to drive improved educational standards and an opportunity for all pupils to level up. They advise teaching staff to remain flexible and agile in response to possible changes to this educational recovery plan throughout the year.
There will continue to be a demand for more teaching professionals and support staff in schools as more pupils in the 12-15 age category get vaccinated against COVID-19, hopefully enabling schools to remain open, despite the continuation of the pandemic.
With a 71.5% growth in the UK’s Education technology sector, our predicted trends for 2022 are very tech orientated:
- Virtual parents’ evenings – providing a secure and seamless experience that ensures parents feel involved in their child’s education.
- Interactive play-based learning – projection technology using interactive and mobile floors and/or walls that bring classes to life.
- Immersive lessons – using bespoke immersion suites that can recreate any place in the past or present, with 180-degree wraparound screens, interactive floors, sound systems, LED lighting, scent box and temperature control.
- Digital connectivity – apps can help improve pupil involvement in creating, sharing, and accomplishing classroom challenges.
- Virtual Reality (VR) work experience – when the traditional placement is not a viable option, pupils can use VR to get a virtual view of what their potential workplace is like.
Important skills for work in 2022
With new technologies being at the forefront of Education, teaching professionals will need to continue learning new skills. Emerging skills in the education sector include:
- Technology – a vital classroom tool, so Teachers need to remain knowledgeable with the latest advances, as it now plays a critical role in the education of young people.
- Remote learning – can be made interesting and engaging with the use of interactive quizzes, the use of videos, online worksheets, educational apps, and virtual classrooms.
- Adaptive learning materials – understanding how each child learns differently and adapting your methods, techniques and the materials used to accommodate this.
- Mindfulness and wellbeing – there were dramatic increases in children’s mental health issues because of the pandemic. Teachers who can promote wellbeing and instruct their pupils to be more mindful, can help towards reducing stress and anxiety.
- Continual Personal Development (CDP) – will continue to be important for Teachers to enhance their current skills and reduce any possible knowledge shortfalls.
- Learning from peers – can be mutually beneficial, with those instructing their peers, re-enforcing their own learning and gaining a greater understanding of the subject.
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) – focusing on these subjects will help to educate the essential future generation of scientists, inventors, and engineers.
- Specialist SEND support – there is a need for Teachers with additional qualifications and experience in challenging behaviour management, extra language skills, including sign language and phonics.
Thank you and happy Christmas!
From all the staff at Career Teachers, we want to wish all the teaching communities a happy Christmas and a big thank you for all your hard work in such challenging times as you continue to educate and inspire young people across the UK.
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