Join the #Imlearning movement and showcase kids’ learning to squash the “covid gap” narrative

Coauthored by Kathryn Pratt and Caroline Palmer


With the assumption that only measurable, National Curriculum-based learning is important, the government has identified, and publicised, a ‘covid gap’ in learning. To get to this conclusion, the government has, essentially, asked: ‘How much of the National Curriculum has been learned during COVID?’.

Even without data and statistics, it is clear that children and young people will have swallowed less of the National Curriculum set topics, designed to be delivered in school, simply because they haven’t been in school. Teachers and school staff continue to make a huge effort to rapidly set-up and…

Celebrating all learning and actually leaving no child behind

Coauthored by Kathryn Pratt and Caroline Palmer

Scores of teachers have been beating the drum of education reform for decades. Sadly, government inaction has driven many of our best and most passionate educators out of teaching. Trust and morale are low. But as the COVID-19 pandemic rocks the steadfast foundation of the British education system, now is the ideal time to instigate and embrace positive, forward-thinking change.

If we do not change the way we teach, 30 years from now, we’re going to be in trouble” Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group, China’s e-commerce giant. WEF 2018.

Optimistically, back in…

21st Century education needs 21st Century thinking

Coauthored by Kathryn Pratt and Caroline Palmer

A fifth of the way into the 21st Century, we are still teaching for the 20th. As we settle into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technological advancements that transform all industries and touch each corner of society (Philbeck, 2018), it is clear that centuries of top-down, knowledge-based education is no longer adequate. With information at each of our fingertips and technology providing ever expanding possibilities, teachers are no longer the keepers of knowledge. Striding towards a future laden with uncertainty, children need to be encouraged to learn “how to think, not what…

We’ve got you kids! It’s the system that needs to change, not you. This is why.

Coauthored by Kathryn Pratt and Caroline Palmer

A few weeks into the third stint of pandemic-induced emergency homeschooling, parents are struggling to maintain the National Curriculum’s pace of educating their children. The impact of juggling jobs, housework and teaching is causing a peak in stress and anxiety, in spite of Boris Johnson’s open letter to parents.

“I feel like I am failing” — emergency homeschooling parent

Increasing the pressure on parents, and fueling their sense of failure, the media and government are perpetuating a damning narrative of COVID-era children’s prospects. And the children are listening. Last week the National Foundation…

Trusting your child’s ability to learn

According to a recent report by the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER), my children, like many, have apparently fallen into the ‘covid gap’ of lost learning. My kids would be in year 1 and year 3, though they haven’t been in school since they were closed for most pupils in March 2020. NFER estimates a significant loss of learning for 6- and 7-year-olds, equivalent to about 3 months of missed school (more for my kids presumably), and concludes that catch-up learning is needed.

To be honest, I am pretty shocked that anyone can claim 6-year-olds need to ‘catch up’…

From school work to project-based learning

In the first COVID-19 lockdown, it didn’t take me long to realise that, for us, school work was not going well in the home setting. Managing two children requiring simultaneous guidance through different set tasks, in addition to adult responsibilities, proved unnecessarily challenging and did not make for a happy household. With my hand metaphorically held by my good friend and home education expert Kath Pratt, I took the leap into curiosity-driven, child-led learning.

Indoctrinated into the British education system, and in a world driven by metrics and assessments to indicate success and achievement, it was incredibly hard to release…

Reimagining education for the 21st Century

Coauthored by Kathryn Pratt and Caroline Palmer

Photo by Kathryn Pratt

With the new year just beginning, the sense of relief garnered from leaving 2020 behind seems to have rapidly evaporated, despite the vaccine roll-out. COVID-19 cases are up nearly 50% on last week and we are, again, in lockdown with schools closed to all but vulnerable and key-worker children.

While lockdown and school closures are greatly needed, for many parents it brings a largely unworkable situation. Fitting in work while teaching the National Curriculum requirements to, often multiple, children is simply not humanly possible. Yet the overwhelming expectation is that they do.


Keeping expectations in check and setting-up for success (as you define it)

Parents are again under pressure to effectively deliver the National Curriculum to their children, often while simultaneously trying to hold down a full time job.

In the first lockdown, I threw out the worksheets and spelling lists and stopped attempting to teach my primary school kids the National Curriculum in the way it was prescribed.

The kids have thrived.

Stepping away from desks and school work opens the doors for homemade bows and arrows, green space exploration and a sense of freedom.

In fact, we didn’t go back to school in September, in part because of the threat of COVID, but also because the kids have flourished with a child-led approach…

With the new strain of COVID-19 rampaging across the country, the nation’s parents, or at least those in London (for now), are bracing for another round of home schooling.

If you are one of them, this most likely is not the way you envisaged starting off 2021. With the trauma of last year’s home schooling still fresh, you may have, understandably, shed a few pre-emptive tears of despair. Many of you will yet again be attempting the impossible task of juggling work and educating your children.

Looking back on how the first lockdown happened, with parents assigned the role of…

Whether you are an undergraduate honours student needing guidance or a postgraduate needing a reference letter or feedback on your first paper, supervisors can be frustratingly elusive. After putting in the hours and needing, sometimes the smallest, action from your supervisor, receiving nothing in response to your emails can be really frustrating, demotivating and, at worst, can hold-up your career. This means that choosing a good one is really important. If it’s too late for that (and that is probably why you are here) doing what you can to promote a response is the next best course of action. …

Dr Caroline Palmer

Freelance academic editor and writing coach

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