We spoke to teachers in our networks—including art and DT teachers from mainsteam schools, alternative provision academies and special schools—about the impact of the COVID-19 school shutdown on them and their students.
Our conversations particularly engaged teachers in schools with a high proportion of pupils on free school meals, who raised particular concerns about the impact on thier students. Key themes raised included:
- Approaches to calculating predicted grades will vary between schools; some already have a framework in place, while others are still in the process of developing one. Engagement of teachers in developing this framework for assessment also varies from school to school.
- None of the work pupils do at home during the lockdown will count towards their predicted grades or non-exam assessment; some teachers saw this as an opportunity to encourage pupils to use this time to develop their own creative practice and develop their portfolios away from the constraints of the formal curriculum.
- However, all the teachers we spoke to were concerned about pupils’ lack of engagement during the lockdown, with some reporting that they had had very little contact with their GCSE, A Level and BTEC students. They felt this was due to a range of factors:
- Lack of internet access: many pupils are without access to a laptop or sharing one with siblings or parents who are also working from home
- Some students’ reliance on handheld and mobile devices, which do not have the full functionality of a laptop or computer
- Lack of working space and materials
- Lack of motivation and focus for pupils for whom creative subjects are not a priority
- Teachers’ and students’ lack of familiarity with resource-sharing programmes and platforms
- Lack of peer networks for feedback and development of ideas and work
These concerns are reflected in research from the Sutton Trust, which found that two thirds of state school pupils were not participating in home school lessons during the lockdown.
Teachers flagged the following ways that Crafts Council could help and support schools during this time:
- Providing activity ideas and tutorials that would encourage pupils to keep making at home, and explore techniques that they might not have tried in school. Resources should not be exclusively online or video-based, so that schools can post them to students with no internet access.
- Teachers stressed the importance of using materials that can be easily found at home. Creating opportunities for students to work with materials, despite the lack of access to the resources they have at school, is crucial.
- Tasks should support students’ creativity, critical skills, resilience, and ability to refine and develop their ideas. We should encourage them to use this time to develop their identity as makers, artists and craftspeople
- Resources must be accessible for all learners and support an inclusive understanding of identity and cultural capital.
- Offer support with portfolio development—through online tutorial sessions and resources, and also by suggesting quick activities that could help students experiment and showcase a range of skills.
- Use our platform to motivate students by setting competitive ‘challenges’ and showcasing student work online
- Ensure that students are encouraged to care for their emotional wellbeing, whilst still connecting to the Art and Design and Design and Technology curricula.
- Provide tasks that will allow for transition back into non exam assessment when schools reopen.