The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the fundamental importance of schools and early learning settings to Australian society. These essential services safeguard, develop and enrich the lives of children and young people. As Australia responds to COVID-19, educators are being asked to do even more, in novel ways, in a rapidly changing environment. We thank and applaud Australia’s educators for all they are doing at this difficult time.
Those of us who support educators must also change what we do to be helpful. That’s why Evidence for Learning has launched a new section of our website, to assist with educator-led, home-supported learning.
As a result of the measures taken to control the outbreak, many children are not attending their regular school or early learning centre and may not do so for some time. Whilst this is appropriate, we must be clear that, for most, there will be less learning. We know that the vast majority of children learn better at school because of the direction, expertise and support that can be provided there. We also know that the risk is far greater for children and young people in vulnerable circumstances. A ‘summer slide’ in reading, maths and other skills over a long school break is well understood and a useful proxy for what might happen, without thoughtful action.
We need to support our educators to have continued leadership in children’s learning, albeit in very different ways. Systems, leaders and educators are working tirelessly to prepare for home-supported learning; developing ways to best equip parents and carers to be effective partners. And parents and carers are rapidly gaining a better awareness of the expertise required to promote learning and a heightened respect for the profession. Perhaps this is a silver lining in the dark cloud of these times.
Not every family has the same resources and access to technology to support learning at home. For those experiencing vulnerability, we must ensure the digital divide and lack of other resources does not turn the current achievement gap into a chasm over the coming months. While delivering the best learning possible now, systems and educators also need to plan for a positive return to schools and centres after the crisis. This must include initiatives for catching up children who will fall behind during this period.
Right now, leaders and teachers are inundated with suggestions and recommendations on digital programs and home learning resources – we hope to separate a ‘signal from the noise’ for you. It is basic for now but we will continue to build out over the coming weeks and months with our best knowledge and guidance. It will be developed in partnership with education authorities and agencies to ensure consistent and relevant information for every state and territory.
E4L’s mission - to help educators increase learning through better evidence - has never been more urgent than it is right now. As we move rapidly to share relevant materials with you, we maintain our ambition to be trustworthy by producing rigorous, independent guidance, and useful by making all our resources free and relevant to your situation.
Every day our team is inspired by school and early childhood educators responding to this crisis with dedication and dynamism. We stand with you and hope to be of service to your vital work.
Director, Evidence for Learning
We have created a dedicated area, to assist educators as they prepare for, and deliver home-supported learning. It contains pages, regularly updated with:
- Clear and actionable guidance on home supported learning, based on relevant evidence from our Guidance Reports and the Toolkits.
- A new global evidence review and Australian-focused guidance on distance and online learning (developed in collaboration with our partners at the UK’s Education Endowment Foundation).
- A directory of Australian education department and agency links, and recommended resources for educators that align with our best evidence.
- Key learning concepts for parents to be effective partners in home-supported learning.
Necessarily, these pages are limited to begin with. We aim to add new knowledge and insights as quickly as we can, once we are confident to share them with you, so please check back regularly and give us feedback.