Education Beyond Covid:
Reality, Resilience and Renewal

Webinar: - what happened - Videos and Texts


Education Beyond Covid:
Reality, Resilience and Renewal

Webinar on Saturday 15th May 2021  

An introductory live session initiated by the Quaker Values in Education (QVinE) group which shared educational experiences in schools and at home over the past year, and looked towards the future.

The event explored the following themes:

  • how the pandemic laid bare the inequalities in our society, which affect young people in the education system at all levels;
  • how some schools and adults demonstrated resilience in finding creative solutions to problems they and their students and children faced;
  • aspirations of how we can take the best of what we have learned into a better future for education.

We gathered a wide range of contributors – parents, teachers, governors, teacher trainers and young people – who shared their views, and offered their lived experience in shaping future directions in education.

Our four main speakers - with summing up from Anne Watson

Paul Parker

Recording Clerk of Britain Yearly Meeting

Geoff Barton

General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders 

Kevan Collins

was UK Government Commissioner on Education Recovery

Becky Francis

Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF)

Event Schedule




Webinar Opens – Join early to introduce yourselves


For assignment to break out rooms  > returning to main for >


Introduction by Jeff Beatty, QVinE clerk
followed by Martyn Beer's introduction to each guest speaker *


Input from Guest Speakers
Introduction - 9 minutes then..

Paul Parker - 8 minutes

Geoff Barton - 8 minutes

Kevan Collins - 5 minutes

Becky Francis - 6 minutes


Introduction to the break out groups


Breakout sessions - with facilitators and note takers


Coffee break


Feedback session


Plenary, further feedback on where next, and finally …
Summing up - by Anne Watson *

      * for full texts see More Pages: Webinar Texts


Paul Parker – Key Quotes

Glory, prophecy and the new Covenant. 

What do we mean by Quaker Values in Education? Are we clear enough, distinctive enough in our answers to this? 

How does our testimony of equality speak to this? The glory of God in each rather than a twinkling light? What would it mean to encounter each other with this in mind? To teach with this in mind? 

The need for the prophetic voice in education today: Standing up, speaking out with conviction, acting as we are led to create the Kingdom of Heaven in which to live. 

This can be done: peace education, use of meditation to bring about change in and outside school communities. 

Where are our visionary voices? Education’s comprehensive revolution has now been overtaken by the reforms of last 40 years. A unique opportunity [to revive this vision] has been brought by the pandemic – a chance to reset. 
Abandon transactional, consumer-based models - move towards education as an investment in the common good. 

Only by imagining the world we want to create will we be able to envision the education.

Geoff Barton Key Quotes

I think what the Covid crisis has done is to shine a mirror on the education system that we've got - warts and all – and what we've seen is the deep humanity of our schools. The fact is that children have, in the main, joyfully returned there and appreciated their teachers.

I think that the big priority for me is that we get back to a real sense that our schools and our colleges are places where we the older generation help prepare the younger generation to take their place in society. Some of that will be happening through the curriculum in the classroom some of it will be happening through the rhythms and the routines of our schools and some of it will be happening through all the extracurricular activities as well. 

I think the Department for Education wants to default back to the way things were. …There will be some people, lots of us I think, who are going to say we can do better than we were doing previously. We can appreciate that when we talk about young people it doesn't have to be about catch up as if there is some quantity of learning which if you've missed out on then you are damaged for the rest of your life. 

We should value that richness more which means appreciating that what happens outside the classroom, which has been a part of the English education system for so long,  that needs to be intensified and made available to more young people than perhaps were able to access it in the past.

[The pandemic] has exposed the shameful nature of the inequalities in our society.

We have higher ambitions than the secretary of state for education because the idea that all of this is going to be addressed through after-school catch-up is really not the case.

The way we should be thinking is: what have we learned about what great teachers do? And how can we help them to do more of it. What have we learned about how technology could be part of a solution here, actually doing some of the heavy lifting, allowing teachers to do more and allowing children to learn more?

It does seem to me that what’s happened during the pandemic is that people who had not paid a lot of attention to education have paid a lot of attention to it. …Parents have noticed education in a different way. I think that the notion of defaulting back to a rather mechanistic education system whereby a child is defined by a grade after 12 years or so - I think parents would agree with us we can do better than that. I think we will be able to make a case beyond the echo chamber of education and for us, with our governors, to say we'll do what's right for the young people in our school rather than what might be mandated.

With performance tables having been suspended and Ofsted being suspended the world didn't collapse. 
Indeed maybe this is the opportunity for us to say that we're the guardians of those children and young people. We will do what's right for them, [with] a real sense of moral purpose renewed and refreshed as we come out of this wretched pandemic.

Kevan Collins – Key Quotes

I think the top priority is to try and understand, together, exactly what the Covid experience has been and what the impact has been on our lives and on our learning and that story hasn't been told. 

We know that there will be areas of learning we need to focus on; we know there'll be areas of personal and social development we want to major on; we just need to understand this is going to be a personal story for each individual and we need to really spend time to talk to each other, to understand what those areas are so we can make sure the adjustments we make, ensure that everybody renews and recovers in the way that we want.

We have to set policy frameworks and make sure that the resources are in place to support the schools and teachers but understand that the real work happens in classrooms and for individuals so you have to make sure all the policies are flexible, that they can be adjusted so they work for people. (Rather than people working to policy.) 

This has to be a school-led, if not a classroom led recovery to secure the best opportunities for our young people. 

Teaching and teachers are the greatest resource we have. The recovery will happen in classrooms so everything we do, must be about supporting our teachers in order to support our children . 

We must be thinking about the whole child. This is about the education experience in the broadest sense of the words and it’s not just about academic learning. It’s the non-academic; it’s the social and emotional and physical development of children as well as their academic learning. 

There is a huge risk that our most disadvantaged communities will be hardest hit; the legacy that we see of growing inequality would be a terrible legacy and is something we all need to be guarding against. 

Focus on inequality, focus on the whole child and focus on the quality of the teaching in our classrooms. 

In the decade before the pandemic, England was actually showing the world that you can begin to close the gap, not that you can end the gap but you can get the at least the trend going in the direction that we want. Growing inequality in the world is a is a fundamental risk and I think a profound moral case for all of us.

Take the example of Tower Hamlets, the poorest kids in England on average go to school and yet the performance has been dramatically changed for that group of children who now outperform the national averages. 

You learn from teachers, you learn from children and you learn from just spending time with each other and having this kind of dialogue. Not in a competitive way, in a collaborative, engaging way. 

We should be constantly concerned about the inequality in our system. This remains the biggest scar. England is interesting, it has some of the best schools in the world, one of the best places to go to school in the world, but it also has for some children, an experience which doesn’t yield the opportunities they deserve. 

The way that parents have engaged in children’s learning.
The way technology has been transformed – how we capture that and make that part, not just of children’s experience but the teaching experience to take some of the workload off. 

The socialisation, the collaboration, the relationship I have with children directly is one of the most precious relationships in education – how do we get her those things. 

We know what's important. We know for children in Early Years it really matters if they haven't been together playing. We're going to have to think about how we incorporate that into their experience in Year One.  We know in Year Six it really matters that you go into secondary school as an independent, powerful, secure self-improving reader.  We've got to get that in place. We know that in Year Eight, in Year Nine, collaboration is a really important skill to build for the long term and that might not been happening when you've been sitting on your own with a computer.  We know what's important. 

Becky Francis – Key Quotes

My priority in response to challenges of The pandemic is to draw on the evidence, combined with professional reflection and diagnostic assessment – locally based reflection.

High quality teaching makes the biggest difference and that is particularly important for kids from a disadvantaged background.  Focus, a relentless focus on high quality teaching and teaching and learning experiences; a kid- targeted approach thinking about particularly beneficial programmes and strategies whether the sort that is one to one or small group tuition or perhaps well-evidenced literacy and numeracy programmes and so forth, in order to provide some compensation for learning loss.

Whole school approaches – social and emotional well-being. Behavioural approaches, engagement with parents – more important than ever during the Pandemic. 

Complexity can’t be over emphasised. Each local context will be different right down to the individual child. We know there are no quick fixes to addressing the impact of Covid- 19 on children’s learning, but teachers, school leaders, parents and pupils have already displayed levels of dedication and resilience that inspire hope.

What’s been achieved has been truly amazing. There have been important innovations around digital provision and remote learning. Addressing the needs of pupils in the classroom while simultaneously and having to provide remote learning online. 

Learning loss both in KS1 and KS2 of anywhere between one month to two months learning loss alongside a growing of the gap for social disadvantage again between 1 to 2 months of that already substantial gap.But in the second lockdown there were inclusive approaches; more vulnerable pupils in the classroom – some of those pupils experiencing more one to one interaction with the teacher than perhaps ever before. Need to be strategic - some short-term ways to address the real immediate challenges: early language challenges that may affect whole learning journey if they’re not quickly remedied. 

Likewise conceptual misunderstandings, if they’re not addressed, will be built on and exacerbated, causing further challenges down the line. Need broader sustained approach too but still need for responsive, short-term compensatory measures. Tiered approach needed but effective day-to-day focus on teaching and learning will always be beneficial and probably the key point of focus.  Targeted approaches, holistic approach thinking about resilience and climate and environment in which young people need to lean effectively.

Importance of social and emotional learning. – which of course includes resilience. Some findings show that teaching this explicitly is likely to be effective. Self-calming strategies and so forth. Need to be integrated and modelled within everyday teaching rather than relying on moments of crisis to exemplify these. Opportunity to think about school-wide norms and routines, which might include anti-bullying and wider consideration of positive behaviours. Implementation really matters when taking on new approaches – considering how fostering resilience is connected to other priorities rather than competing with them. Providing appropriate training and support for staff as well. Careful monitoring of the implementation and evaluating of impact. Not all programs are effective. Inventory in terms of social and emotional well-being. Lots of US programmes around promoting resilience haven’t had transferable impacts in England whereas other programmes have shown more promise. Local circumstances are crucial to understand; environment for learning is incredibly important. Some schools have had much more disruptive times. Simultaneous approaches needed where possible.

Care and sensitivity to individual pupil needs Reliance on schools as real beating hearts of communities.Never take teachers and senior leaders for granted. Recruitment, training and retention of teachers crucial. 


Anne Watson's conclusions 

Education: post-Covid priorities

The Quaker Values in Education Group hosted this webinar  from Woodbrooke to think about the reality, resilience and renewal necessary for recovery of the education system after the changes forced upon schools, teachers and children by the virus and its management.  This is my perspective on these matters.

In a previous article in The Friend I claimed that our particular view of truth – that it is something we seek together rather than something we accept, finished and polished, from others – is a Quaker contribution to education. Also, our particular view of childhood is a contribution. Children are not born in original sin as unshaped beings into whom knowledge, culture and morals have to be inserted, but are born in grace as people of equal value, deserving equal respect. 

The language being used nationally about recovery is, however, not about knowledge as truth and children as people but is the language of measurement and control. The particular kind of control implied by phrases such as ‘catch-up’ and ‘loss of learning’ is about a race to access a canon of knowledge whose content and progression has been decided by the state. More than that, the state has already, pre-covid, sought to govern methods of teaching that give every child access to this canon. This is described as giving equal access to a ‘knowledge-rich’ curriculum. I agree that there is a deep need for ‘equality of opportunity’ and for access to the same worthwhile knowledge for all children.  Weaknesses in society have to be treated with compensation for those most disadvantaged.  However, recent policies have turned the need for equality into recipes for fitting-in to a state-sanctioned canon of knowledge without sufficient critique of the knowledge into which children are supposed to ‘fit