TP-Issue14.5 | 19 T he shutdownprovideduswith anopportunity to re-evaluate many aspects of education, particularly the role of online learning. There has beena long standing interest in the role of online learning inour schools, but in the past few months it has jumped suddenly fromthe edge to themainstream. While primary teachers quickly grasped the challenge ofmoving learning online inextremely difficult circumstances and worked swiftly to employ a range of existing technology platforms tohelp support children’s learning during the lockdown, larger organisations and government began toproduce resources to support homeschooling. Schools andorganisations across the sector joined together to developOakNational Academy and the BBC launched threemonths of online andbroadcast programming for pupils of primary and secondary ages. Aswe begin to lookbeyond lockdown it is becoming clearer that online learning will remaina part of schooling.We know it is not perfect, and experiences have ranged fromthe good to the poor, but I think that onlinewill have amore prominent profile in learning after this episode is behindus. Nowschools are slowly reopening, it’s time to test howa blendof online andoffline learningmaywork. Heads and teachers have concerns about the practicalities of social distancing, especiallywithyounger primary children, sowemay see a situation inwhich schools operate in shifts so that they canaccommodate pupils as safely as possible.While part-time schoolingmay be a headache for heads, online learning could help to supplement face-to-face classroom teaching. In themeantime, schoolswill continue to focus ondelivering at least an outline curriculumfor childrenover the next fewweeks – andmake a special effort to target additional learning support to VO I CES Lord JimKnight childrenwhoneed it. I think itwouldbe helpful if schools, government andparents – and the broader education community – could shift their expectations andmake this bravenew temporaryworldmore about social and emotional support and contact for pupils, rather than just learning outcomes. In those distant days before the pandemic struck, we struggled to strike the right balance between the academic, the emotional and the social. Sincewe’re ina timewhere the rapid reinventionand re-evaluationof learning has become commonplace, I believe thatwe shouldplay toour natural instincts as social and emotional animals and focusmore on the emotional and social aspect of schooling. Technology canmake this easier to achieve. It is, for example, easy for classes to come together regularly inan online learning or video conferencing platformso that childrenmaintaina sense of class community, learning and pastoral leadership fromtheir teacher. It’s anopportunity for pupils to gather ina common space and connectwith eachother aswell as learn. I knowthere aremany primary schools across the country already adopting this kindof approachwithmorning and afternoon ‘check-in’ sessions and I think it is useful to look to these for inspiration. There is certainly aneed forwellbeing support at this time. Educare, a subsidiary of Tes, has seenhuge demand fromschools for its online training around children’smental healthwhich it developedwith the charity YoungMinds. At the endof all thiswewill need to reflect onwhatwe have learnt about teaching, learning, technology andourselves. I amsure the debate about the validity of Year 6SATswill gain further traction if teacher assessments provide anadequate solution this summer. The role of parents as partners in children’s educationwill alsobe a consideration, given that parents have had to stepup andplay a farmore prominent role in their child’s learning in recentweeks. It has beenanextraordinary time for our primary schools. Heads and teachers across the countryhave proven their remarkable energy, their commitment and their inventiveness in shifting schooling to the online realm. Aswe begin to look forward to at least a partial return tonormality, the next challengewill be to ensure that some of the changes leave a lasting legacy. Lord JimKnight is chief education and external officer at Tes Global, an international education business supporting schools in their work to improve children’s lives through education. He is a Member of theHouse of Lords and a former schoolsminister. Online learning isn’t perfect, but it will most likely have amore prominent profile in education after this episode is behind us... WILLTHEREBE ALOCKDOWN LEGACY? @lordjimknight