There is an opportunity to enable and facilitate a reservoir of online learning content for schoolchildren that will, over time, cover the needs of all age groups across the full spectrum of subjects. Competition between contributors will drive up the quality of materials to build a world class resource that will improve the efficacy and efficiency of the UK education sector.
How could this work?
• Organisations such as Exam Boards and Ofsted would act only as facilitators, the private sector and individuals collectively will deliver actual content;
• Organisations such as the Exam Boards would be tasked with producing detailed syllabi for each subject and each year group, and to break these down into lesson sized sub-syllabi;
• Contributors would submit content to the relevant Exam Board for approval and inclusion in a master list of approved content. It could be expected that there would be a choice of content for most lessons;
• Content could be hosted on YouTube, Vimeo, iPlayer or any other platform that was accessible to all; a syllabus might be met by drawing on content from a mixture of platforms and contributors;
• Contributors might be individual teachers, schools, school trusts or TV production companies. Material from the BBC could be integrated. Contributors might simply wish to promote a particular school or trust, they might earn revenue from advertising on a platform such as YouTube. It could be expected that private schools would be keen to promote themselves by being major contributors.
• Competition between contributors could be expected to drive up quality, so that individual ‘lessons’ could be far more engaging, diverse and authoritative than material that an individual teacher could produce for traditional classroom based teaching;
• Teachers would be free to draw on this content as they saw fit. It would allow pupils to go over lessons a second time, or even to view alternative lessons on a particular topic;
• Content could be viewed on mobile phones as well as computers and tablets, significantly widening access. A survey by Childwise in early 2020 recorded that mobile phone ownership was ‘almost universal’ by the time pupils were in secondary school; charities and schools could work together to fill the remaining gap;
• The overall approach is in step with the lives of modern children and the way they want to learn; • Ofsted could provide overall quality control on syllabi, sub-syllabi and approved content;
• Over time, content could include self-assessment questionnaires which would be designed to be available to teachers to monitor pupils’ progress and achievement;
• Similarly content could evolve to recognise that different pupils learn in different ways, with some finding it easier to absorb material with a problem based lesson approach which schools find difficult to deliver at present;
• Finally the role of teachers might evolve to allow them more time to support individual pupils, particularly those needing more individual attention. This can only help level up the education system in the years ahead.