The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has caused significant disruption for students across New Zealand, due to lockdowns, social distancing and ongoing uncertainty. The Education Review Office interviewed 750 schools and surveyed over 2500 principals and teachers across the country, from May through to September 2020, to understand how they have responded. This summary highlights how schools have supported students and their whānau in the face of Covid-19.
Whole article:Learning in a Covid-19 World: How schools have stepped up to support students and whānau
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has caused significant disruption for students across New Zealand, both from lockdowns, social distancing and ongoing uncertainty. The Education Review Office interviewed 750 schools and surveyed over 2500 principals and teachers across the country, from May through to September 2020, to understand how they have responded.
It is clear from this research that schools have gone above and beyond to meet students’ needs and the needs of their whānau. In particular they have:
- innovated, used digital technology and developed new ways of working that will support students going forward
- quickly transitioned to distance teaching to support students’ learning and wellbeing from afar
- supported whānau wellbeing and played a key role in local communities
- helped students to return to the classroom and continue their learning in a Covid-19 world
- taken care of their teachers who also faced stresses during this time.
There have been significant challenges for schools to overcome. This short research excerpt shares the key findings and examples of good practice from how schools across New Zealand have responded to Covid-19.
Schools have innovated and developed new ways of working that will support students going forward
- There has been a step change in use of technology - two thirds of schools intend to retain some elements of distance learning and increase the use of digital technology in their curriculum.
- There has been a significant increase in whānau involvement - a quarter of leaders have found greater whānau involvement and integration of home and school learning a key success.
“[It was] like having five years of relationship-building in seven weeks.” – Principal
Schools quickly transitioned to distance teaching and supported students’ learning and wellbeing from afar
- During the lockdown, eight out of 10 students said a teacher had contacted them to check they were okay. Teachers used a combination of phone calls, emails, video calling and other digital platforms to regularly check in with students and whānau.
“My son has autism. During lockdown, he was sent an education package which didn’t suit his style and level of learning. But his teachers were fabulous – they worked together with the other agencies to make sure my son was supported at all times. They checked in with us on a daily basis and set some simple tasks for my son, but more importantly they advised us to have fun learning together as a family. I learnt to talk with my sons, not at them! I have four sons and learnt new things about each one of them, even my autistic son.” – Parent
Schools supported whānau wellbeing and played a key role in local communities
- In a quarter of schools we spoke to just after the first lockdown, leaders reported that they had distributed care packages during lockdown, including food parcels and clothing, to whānau in their community, often in conjunction with KidsCan or the local marae.
“There was a drive-through here for us to come and collect the packs and kai, those without cars got them delivered to their front step.”
Schools helped their students to return to the classroom and continue their learning in a Covid-19 world
- Schools changed what they taught and how they taught it to support student learning after lockdown. Four out of 10 schools interviewed changed their curriculum, a third their teaching practices and how they use support staff, and a quarter their learning relationships with whānau.
“I felt I was falling behind in my work. Regular catch ups with my Learning Advisor helped me to keep track of my progress and know what to do.” – Secondary school student
Schools took care of teachers who also faced stresses during this time
- Three-quarters of teachers surveyed felt supported by their colleagues at school both in lockdown and afterwards.
"The overarching philosophy of the school is a learning community, it's relational, very supportive. We all work closely together." – Teacher
This summary is an early release from this research. ERO will release the full findings from its Learning in a Covid-19 World research programme early in the new year. This will include the impact Covid-19 has had on students, and the practical actions schools can take in 2021 to support students, whānau, and teachers with the ongoing challenges of Covid-19.
Except for the Education Review Office's logo used throughout this report, this copyright work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand licence. In essence, you are free to copy, distribute and adapt the work, as long as you attribute the work to the Education Review Office and abide by the other licence terms. In your attribution, use the wording 'Education Review Office', not the Education Review Office logo or the New Zealand Government logo.