The COVID-19 pandemic has had a seismic effect on schools and universities, as lockdowns forced teachers and students to switch to remote learning. Even before this abrupt online shift, however, students were voicing their concerns over outdated teaching methods and curricula that do not reflect their priorities and values.
In a survey by Zurich Insurance of 2.5 million young people aged 7 to 17, 72% of them said that climate change is the biggest issue affecting them today — not COVID-19, which they see as a blip. They want a values-led curriculum, focused on climate change, mental health, and the skills to contribute to society.
Now in its second season, the #ChamberBreakers podcast series examines education, the workforce and corporate social responsibility at a time of global crisis.
In the fourth episode of this season, Lianna Brinded, head of Yahoo Finance UK, and Xavier White, CSR and innovation marketing manager for Verizon Business, speak to Steve Frampton, former president of the Association of Colleges, and currently chair of Association of Colleges Services Board and Furthering Higher Education Climate Commissioner.
Frampton explains that our education system is not keeping up with generational changes, with “very little difference” between exams set today versus in 1952.
“The curriculum isn't appropriate, it isn't balanced, it isn't going to be what is necessary for young people going forward,” Frampton says. “I would argue that we do need a fairly radical review of education in the round — the curriculum, its delivery, and its assessment.”
“Part of a values-led curriculum would be to embed that idea that learning is going to be lifelong,” Frampton adds.
He believes radical change is achievable, provided the whole educational ecosystem is on board, from Ofsted, to higher education leaders, and the Department of Education. “What we really need is to have government investment in the area which has been the least invested in over the last few years.”
Frampton believes the pandemic has had a “massive” impact on education, and will lead to the creation of new norms.
“One of the great positives for me — if we put aside the digital poverty divide that's very serious for the 10% to 20% of young people and staff caught in that — is that for an overwhelming majority, education has thrived in this experience.
“There's a lot of data that says, for some of those who are more disengaged, the pandemic has been a way of engaging them more,” he says.
The eight-part video series is also a podcast and is out every Thursday. Next week’s episode features Ann Cairns, Global Vice Chair, Mastercard.