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Leading school learning through Covid-19 and beyond

Girl with mask on looking at tabletA team led by Dr Jacqueline Baxter of The Open University Business School has been awarded nearly £300,000 to investigate online learning and strategic planning through, and post, lockdown in English secondary schools.

‘Leading school learning through Covid-19 and beyond’, in collaboration with Professor Alan Floyd from the University of Reading, is believed to be the first project of its kind in the UK, and potentially worldwide. This is an 18-month project, which began in December 2020

The project will look at how school leaders strategically manage and plan for online provision of learning, through the pandemic and beyond. It will address how they have coped with, and continue to manage, particular challenges such as a lack of equipment, absence of learners from school, and provision for Special Educational Needs (SEN) students.

This is quite an exceptional project involving interviews with leaders from 50 state secondary schools in England, along with questionnaires to a further 4,000. The OU is very well placed to carry out this work given our long history of supported online learning. I believe this is the first time this particular issue has been investigated in the UK – key data from the OECD (2020) reports school provision of online learning among OECD countries to be very patchy. This project will offer valuable insights into the short, medium and long-term planning for online learning in secondary education internationally.

The pandemic has presented an unprecedented challenge to school leaders in England, something which has only intensified as pupils have returned to full-time schooling. The UK Government warned that schools will close if two or more cases of the virus appeared within a fortnight and that schools must offer ‘a high standard of remote/blended learning’.

During the first national lockdown, schools developed online learning strategies. There is little or no knowledge of how these strategies have been led and managed or how they have, or will, address the needs of disadvantaged pupils who are recognised to be disproportionately impacted by school closures.

Dr Jacqueline Baxter
The Open University Business School

The project team will be working with three key partners – Schools North East, The Key, and Derby Teaching Schools Alliance.

Visit the project website