Many pupils in Welsh schools have benefited from different learning experiences as they adapt to the shift to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research involving academics from Aberystwyth, Bangor and England. University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
The research, which was funded by the Welsh Government, is one of a number of education-themed studies presented at the National Eisteddfod in Tregaron on Monday August 1.
Prysor Mason Davies, Lecturer in Education at Aberystwyth University, who was co-investigator of the research ‘Exploring the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Learners in Wales’, explained: “There is a risk that we stigmatize an entire generation as having suffered “learning loss”, when in fact this descriptor is neither useful nor accurate.
“Our research shows that, overall, the pandemic has been a learning time for everyone involved in education.
“It is true that the disadvantages suffered by the most vulnerable learners have been exacerbated or made more evident by the pandemic school closures.
“Access to appropriate equipment, internet connectivity, varying ability of parents and guardians to provide a supportive home learning environment, and difficulties in maintaining access to specialist support services have created barriers for learners .
“However, some learners have flourished due to their greater independence, their ability to work at their own pace and with the support of their parents or guardians.
“In addition, the children involved in our research learned new skills during the confinement, such as chopping wood, baking bread, gardening, cooking and playing musical instruments. The children learned a lot on family walks – acquiring knowledge about their region and their habitat – or participating in home improvement work.
“Thus, rather than ‘learning loss‘, it might be more appropriate to adopt the descriptor ‘academic loss’, emphasizing that students may not have achieved specific learning goals set in the school curriculum.
The study made a number of recommendations to inform the education system‘s immediate response and planning for any future disruption.
One of the recommendations was to improve the current provision of initial teacher education to better cover areas such as the home learning environment, home-school relationships, blended learning and distance education, additional learning needs, and mental health and well-being.
The discussion ‘Education, Time and Place: Recent research into current issues facing education in Wales’ will be moderated by researchers from Aberystwyth University’s School of Education at 2.00pm on Monday 1 August on the University stand (Stand M05) at the National Eisteddfod in Tregaron.
Information on other Aberystwyth University events at the Eisteddfod can be found here
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