On lives, on learning: Online: A study of the lived experiences of stakeholders in the education sector in mid-Wales during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Allbwn ymchwil: Cyfraniad at gynhadleddPapur


The closure of schools to the general population as a result of COVID-19 lockdown measures, from March 2020, resulted in numerous challenges for stakeholders. Pupils experiencing limited contact with teachers, curriculum provision varied from school to school, take-up of ‘home learning’ was uncertain, and disadvantages as a result of the increased significance, and exacerbation, of existing and historically un-signified disadvantages, all during a time of significant public and personal upheaval for stakeholders meant that the everyday experiences of stakeholders were radically transformed. Drawing on interviews with key stakeholders associated with 5 rural schools across mid Wales - located within the counties of Ceredigion and Powys, and educating c.3,500 pupils from 3 to 19 years old - including senior leadership team members, and parents, focus group interviews with teachers and educational support staff, and survey responses submitted by teaching staff, parents and pupils, the data highlights the lived experiences of these key stakeholders during the pandemic, and their experiences, including the challenges faced by each in the transition to, initially, teaching and learning from afar, and in regard to later blended learning approaches, and the opportunities which stem from their responses. The strong desire to ensure that all students ensured “meaningful progress” (Welsh Government, 2020b: 8) throughout the period, despite the substantial challenges posed to pupils and teachers in rural areas in the pursual of such aims, highlights and the creative responses adopted by stakeholders in an attempt to surmount them.

Key issues highlighted by stakeholders included the increased significance of socio-economic considerations in regard to the educational well-being of learners, especially when education was provided from beyond the school walls and the significance of rural infrastructure, especially in terms of connectivity, and the lack thereof, and its effects on pupils’ and staff experiences of education. Building on the significance of unequal access to technologies, understanding of tasks, access to additional resources, and differences in the amount of parent time available to support learning, as highlighted by the Royal Society DELVE Initiative, our research highlights the significance of issues surrounding parental employment, increased economic instability, and access to resources – especially technological - and the increased
pertinence of many of these issues within rural communities within the context of educating during COVID. These issues were clearly noted as being of significance by educators and parents. Unchecked, they posed an increasingly significant threat to the educational disadvantage of learners during the pandemic. For example, the precarity of numerous stakeholders was highlighted in the data. Significantly, 42% of parental survey respondents noted that they and their children had experienced difficulty with connectivity.

The burdens on stakeholders were significant, and clearly exacerbated by issues associated with rurality, yet numerous responses were developed to respond to the challenges of the pandemic. These responses created opportunities for select stakeholders, yet, as numerous responders highlighted, a ‘one size’ response to the myriad of challenges faced during the pandemic simply did not exist. As a result, we chart and evaluate both the challenges and responses adopted by stakeholders in the response to COVID-19.
Iaith wreiddiolSaesneg
StatwsCyhoeddwyd - 23 Meh 2021

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