Published: 6 October 2021 at 15:00
Fewer than 20% had received training in remote learning before schools shut
Fewer than a fifth of UK primary school teachers had received any formal training in remote learning before the COVID-19 pandemic sent pupils home from schools – but consulting online networks helped them to rise to the challenge, according to new research.
Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) surveyed almost 300 primary teachers from across the UK, and carried out additional follow-up interviews with 24 during June 2020, reflecting on their experiences during the first lockdown during the previous spring.
Of those surveyed, only 17.7% had received training in using technologies to support children’s learning remotely before the pandemic began. A further 18.5% had received training since the start of the pandemic, and 63.8% had not received any such training.
However, the researchers found that teachers shared ideas and also took the lead from senior staff who researched effective online teaching methods in order to upskill themselves as home learning continued.
Teachers also drew on online resources such as social media networks to find out what others were doing. One teacher said: “I follow education lists on Twitter and (there was) support and camaraderie for colleagues that you’ve never even met, who stick together and keep you going. I think that Twitter has really made me feel like I’m part of something, when I felt very isolated.”
Some teachers were able to use school closures as an opportunity to develop their subject knowledge and ideas for teaching in the classroom, as well as enhance their remote teaching skills. However, others found it challenging to try and learn new skills whilst juggling increased workloads and additional demands at home, and found social media to be an added pressure.
Another teacher said: “I am on some social media groups [for teachers], and they have just been producing ream after ream of lessons plans. And I’m just sat there going, ‘’I’m not doing anything, I’m trying to teach my [own] kids’.”
Lead author Dr Sara Spear, Head of the School of Management at ARU, said:
The research was published in Impact: Journal of the Chartered College of Teaching.