One of the most inspiring innovations to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic was the Oak National Academy platform of free online lessons and teaching resources produced by teachers for other teachers to use. Learning lessons from this model it would be possible to develop a national programme of learning for the tens of thousands of students who resit GCSE English and maths each year. While existing resources for school children can be useful, they are not always relevant for post-sixteen learners. Best practice from across the country could be crowd-sourced and used to develop a suite of resources that would sit alongside and/or could be used in full by any student or organisation. If lockdowns continue to occur materials would be readily available for anyone to use.
A key issue facing organisations delivering maths and English resit courses to students is a lack of motivation often driven by the perceived lack of relevance of these subjects and students’ lack of confidence as a result of their own sense of having “failed”. An approach we adopted within our further education organisation was to involved employers in the design and delivery of GCSE courses that demonstrated to students the relevance of what they were learning. This work enabled us to boost student motivation and engagement in these subjects while also enabling them to develop their employability skills. By engaging employers in this work, they were able to make a direct contribution to the education of young people in order to support their progression into employment. Using an online platform, the success of which has been demonstrated by Oak National, it would be possible to spread the impact of this work further. In the area of education, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented problems but also, through an increased and widespread familiarisation with online learning, opened up greater opportunities for collaboration and for making resources widely available to as many young people as possible. The solution outlined here would build on these lessons and would engage employers more fully with one of the sector’s key challenges. In doing this it would address not only the educational impact of the pandemic but would help to confront the broader economic challenges that young people will be facing in the years to come.