Coronavirus crisis could lead to future changes in education system, Watson says

By Peter Madeley | Education | Published:

New teaching methods brought in by schools during the coronavirus outbreak could lead to "great change" in Britain's future education system, according to Tom Watson.

The former Labour deputy leader said the schools lockdown had meant teachers were learning new tech skills and adapting teaching materials, while "incredibly self-disciplined" students were focused on working at home.

He suggested this could lead to a revolution in teaching and learning once the coronavirus crisis is over.

It comes after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson wrote to all schools to thank staff for their "incredible resilience and flexibility" in the face of "unprecedented challenges".

South Staffordshire MP Mr Williamson announced last week that schools would close for the foreseeable future for general lessons in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19, with only vulnerable pupils or those with parents who are key workers allowed to attend.

Mr Watson, who stood down as the West Bromwich East MP in December, said: "In my social circle, there are many teachers learning new tech skills and rapidly adapting their teaching materials.

"And I’ve seen incredibly self-disciplined students completely focussed on home working.

"After we get through this I have a hunch it will lead to great change."


In his letter to schools, Mr Williamson described closing schools as an "essential" part of the fight against coronavirus.

He spoke of his "enormous appreciation" for the work of school staff and said "the weeks and months ahead will undoubtedly be testing for everyone" as the nation "moves further into unchartered waters".

He said school leaders and staff stood alongside NHS staff and other critical workers as "central to our country's efforts in battling the virus".

Mr Williamson said he had heard "extraordinary examples of school leaders and teachers responding with flexibility, pragmatism and creativity".


"Thanks to you, particularly those working in our special schools, our most vulnerable children and young people will still have the support, care and constancy of school environments if they need it," he said.

"You are the reason critical workers across the country can continue to deliver the crucial frontline services that are central to our national effort to tackle Covid-19."

Acknowledging that school leaders were concerned about the health and wellbeing of staff, and of the long-term impact on pupils, he added: "I will do everything in my power to support you."

Peter Madeley

By Peter Madeley

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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