By Dr Jo Neary, Research Associate
Internationally, governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Approximately 60% of the global student population has been impacted by these nationwide closures.
As school leaders and teachers across the globe begin to plan for reopening ahead of in the autumn term, they are aware that this will not be a ‘normal’ term. Measures will need to be put in place to ensure they continue to halt the spread of the virus while also combating the after– effects of months of school closure, such as:
- increased attainment gaps between pupils from deprived and affluent backgrounds
- issues of mental and physical health after being at home with limited access to social networks
- potentially issues of trauma and bereavement.
While this task may seem enormous for individual schools to tackle alone, we believe that by working in school networks, it is possible for change to occur.
From the academic literature, we know that school networks can enable knowledge and resource mobilisation within the system, and can empower schools to do more to address longstanding issues of curriculum, staff confidence, and wellbeing of pupils.
However, we do not know how networks respond to these wider crises related to Covid-19, and what lessons can be learned to ensure the sustainability of the approach.
Together with colleagues from University of Chile, PUCV, University of Twente, VU Netherlands, and Durham University, the Network for Social and Educational Equity (NSEE) team are members of an international research lab aiming to explore this issue, and question how networks can be adapted and used to ensure schools are best placed to respond to these new circumstances.
What is a research lab?
A research lab involves a group of experts coming together to address pre-set questions or themes on a topic. The experts are invited to bring primary or secondary data from their context to compare and contrast different settings.
Over the course of four meetings, one per month, the group will identify data, discuss their findings and look for commonalities and differences across the varying contexts.
At the end of the lab, the aim is to produce a report sharing the depth of understanding created within the research lab. The report may go on to become a series of academic publications, a series of presentations, or resources for others interested in the field.
What is this research lab interested in?
The research lab planning group have invited experts with interest in governance of networks, how teachers are using networks to share good practice and experiences, the potential impact of school networks on student learning and wellbeing during the Covid-19 crisis, and how school networks can promote ability of teachers to respond to these challenges. Finally, how can we ensure school networks are sustainable and resilient against external ‘shocks’ to the system?.
The research lab is currently inviting members to register their interest. This lab is open to members of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI). If you would like more information on the lab, please email lead researcher Mauricio Pino: firstname.lastname@example.org