We must create an independent Teacher Resource Bank Group

Written by: Andy Connell | Published:
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After the pandemic is over, we must make it a priority to create an independent Teacher Resource Bank Group to ensure learning can continue online and at home during times of crisis. Andy Connell explains

What teachers, lecturers and others have managed to do to support our learners in such quick time following the unexpected announcement of lockdown is almost unbelievable – were it not that we already know how great the profession is.

However, our teachers and lecturers and senior leaders should not have been put in the position of working incredibly long hours to transfer their lessons into online content without immediate expert guidance, resources and support from a reliable authority. The impact on teacher welfare and workloads was and remains huge.

It is commendable that the BBC stepped up and was able to launch an upgraded Bitesize provision, drawing on existing resources and others from a range of educational experts and organisations, including the Council for Subject Associations (CfSA).

Educational professional bodies and a number of commercial organisations similarly made resources available for free. The CfSA, for example, organised a response within a week of lockdown, providing a single landing page on the CfSA website linked to each member subject association’s provision of free resources, developed by recognised experts in the curriculum subjects, to support parents, teachers and learners.

However, where was the pre-planned national co-ordination of this work?

Without action at the national level, building on what we have learned from this experience, the problems and challenges faced by teachers and other educators when delivering remote learning in times of crisis will not be solved. We should not be caught unprepared.

It will happen again, whether it is another global/national pandemic (European Commission, 2009) or natural disasters, such as regional flooding, which seem to be increasingly common in the UK (Met Office, 2018).

I think that now is the time for the state to fund the establishment of an independent Teacher Resource Bank Group to co-ordinate the development of a regularly updated, sustainable, open-access, research-informed online education resources bank, supporting learners of all ages and phases.

Alongside this, there needs to be a well-planned strategy of response to crisis, which includes how to roll-out this resource across the country for all schools and homes and how to guarantee access for all learners.

Why independent of government you ask? Should not the Department for Education (DfE) do this? Well, maybe once I might have agreed, but two things have shown why I now think this is unwise.

First, it appears that there was no plan in place despite regular warnings of the likelihood of a crisis like the current one (ECDC, 2006) and on top of this a previous plan was “lost” (DCSF, 2008).

Second, we had such a bank of resources before 2010, and the then new government of the day pulled the funding and “archived” it. They deliberately, apparently for ideological reasons, destroyed a legacy of online evidence-based, quality-assured and peer-reviewed teaching resources, which were also used around the world, including in small nation states and developing nations (Blamires, 2015; Younie and Leask, 2019).

If we can create a resource bank like the one I envisage, it will require heavy initial investment in infrastructure and content development and immense goodwill from the education sector to create and then maintain it. It must be sustainable and therefore it needs to be free from such ideological and political risk.

I would add that there is a need for significant CPD and for all teachers and support staff to be briefed and regularly upskilled in the latest digital technologies to support remote learning.

There has been much learned recently, but it would be helpful if the best research-informed practice was more widespread. CPD and training should also be available to trainee teachers and teacher educators to help plan for crises in the future.

As chair of the CfSA, an organisation with thousands of members and 1,000-plus years of collective experience and educational knowledge, I will shortly be inviting leading professional organisations to an online meeting to discuss this proposal for an independent Teacher Resource Bank Group further.

  • Andy Connell is associate professor of education at University Centre Shrewsbury and chair of the Council for Subject Associations (CfSA). Visit www.subjectassociations.org.uk

Further information & references

  • Blamires: Building portals for evidence-informed education: Lessons from the dead. A case study of the development of a national portal intended to enhance evidence informed professionalism in education. Journal of Education for Teaching: International research and pedagogy (41).
  • DCSF (Department for Children, Schools and Families): Supporting learning if schools close for extended periods during a flu pandemic, November 2008: https://bit.ly/2LlTXDS
  • ECDC: Assessment tool for influenza preparedness in European countries - with a main focus on pandemic preparedness, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in collaboration with the European Commission and the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe, September 2006: https://bit.ly/2Ljyqfa
  • European Commission: Why is pandemic preparedness planning important? 2009a: https://bit.ly/3cpWfOy
  • European Commission: Guide to public health measures to reduce the impact of influenza pandemics in Europe: The ECDC Menu, 2009b: https://bit.ly/3fAosnz
  • Met Office: UK Extreme events – Heavy rainfall and floods, 2018: https://bit.ly/2LhNPfZ
  • Younie & Leask: Lessons from the Bonfire of the Quangos: The case for legislation to provide checks and balances to the powers of the Secretary of State for Education, presentation at the Society for Educational Studies Annual Colloquium, 2019: www.soc-for-ed-studies.org.uk


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