Last Updated: Monday, October 18, 2021

Global responses to education recovery during COVID-19

What is this?

As a result of Covid-19 Scottish education faces great challenges. School and systems leaders are having to adapt to new ways of working. Along with these challenges there may be positive opportunities to change the way we lead and the way we support learning going forward in the recovery period.

It would be easy to assume we were all handling the challenges of this pandemic in the same way. Research and effective practice from around the globe in response to the current crisis may allow us to develop our thinking when seeking solutions to issues presented to us within our own contexts.

Who is this for?

This resource is for leaders and educators who are planning and delivering support for learners and teams during the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Explore this resource

This web page illustrates some interesting approaches to support that have taken place at an international, national and local level and is by no means an exhaustive list.

International level

International research bodies, advisory boards and policy makers have produced numerous reports and guidance documents on the reopening of schools, blended learning approaches and opportunities for innovation and change in the recovery period.

National level - responses at national government level from around the world

Taking into account advice and evidence at International level, national governments have begun to put in place their own plans for the recovery period that take into account their contexts:

  • Education Scotland have generated a central page to collate all their guidance and resources related to Covid-19. This page is continually under review and will be updated regularly.
  • Towards a Vision for Scottish Education in 2025: Making it Happen The ADES publication refers to a number of think pieces and the critical importance of a whole-system approach to improvement. Each report has a common thread running through; the creation of a ‘learning system’ where all stakeholders in the system work together with a shared vision and purpose, with relationships being the key to success.
  • The Scottish Attainment Challenge Equity Audit deepens the understanding of the impact COVID-19 and school closures had on children and young people from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • The updated National Improvement Framework & Plan for 2021 sets out the vision and priorities for Scottish education that have been agreed across the system, and the national improvement activity that needs to be undertaken to help deliver those key priorities.
  • In Scotland, the Scottish Government have a central hub where all COVID-19 related guidance and documents sits. You can find the ones related to ‘Schools, Education, Children and Young People’ on this page.
  • Policy Scotland is working in Partnership with the Norwegian Government to distil the current available school guidance on reopening schools and a concentration on operational examples, which might inform decision-making within the Scottish education system.
  • Policy Scotland have also produced a briefing paper which summarises some of the key practices developed in Denmark which reopened some provision on 15 April 2020. It distills the currently available guidance, and concentrates on those areas which might be the most appropriate now and which have implications for the Scottish education system.
  • Policy Scotland have produced a range of reports on the impact of Covid-19 on Scottish Education. Including the impact on migrant families, rural social exclusion and achieving equity post pandemic.
  • Early childhood education and care (ECEC) during COVID-19 boosts growth in language and executive function - This report highlights the importance of high-quality ECEC for the development of key skills and for levelling socioeconomic inequalities.
  • OECD Implementing Education Policies series: ‘Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence: Into the Future’ (June 2021): Executive Summary and Full Report
  • OECD Beyond Academic Learning: First Results from the Survey of Social and Emotional Skills, (September 2021):
    OECD’s Survey on Social and Emotional Skills (SSES) is one of the first international efforts to collect data from students, parents and teachers on the social and emotional skills of learners at age 10 and 15. This report presents first results from this survey. It describes students’ social and emotional skills and how they relate to individual, family, and school characteristics. It also examines broader policy and socio-economic contexts related to these skills, and sheds light on ways to help education leaders and practitioners monitor and foster students’ social and emotional skills.
  • Social Mobility Commission: State of the nation 2021: Social mobility and the pandemic (July 2021): Against the backdrop of coronavirus (COVID-19), this recent report from the Social Mobility Commission (SMC) considers the progress made in all four UK nations in tackling poverty, addressing inequality, and improving social mobility.

Local level - responses at individual authority, organisation or school level from around the world

Across the world, individual education authorities, schools and organisations that promote learning have developed their own bespoke approaches to supporting learning communities during the recovery period.

  • What Scotland Learned gives examples of innovative practice from learners, parents and educators in Scotland during the first lockdown period in March to August 2020. Ten stories were also collected by interviews carried out with academics and educational leaders.
  • See, Hear, Respond is a new Barnardo’s Service funded by the National Emergencies Trust. It provides an immediate response to children, young people and families anywhere in Scotland who need additional support to cope with the impact of coronavirus.
  • Barnardo's Education Community which is an online space, aimed at education professionals and other people who work in schools, where they can find trauma-informed resources, support and advice about how to help children and young people who may be struggling with their mental health and wellbeing. There is also a dedicated area on the website to support staff with their own wellbeing.
  • Ten years on from the publication of Teaching Scotland's Future - Report of a review of teacher education in Scotland, Professor Graham Donaldson joined GTC Scotland for an online lecture to discuss the changes and challenges faced by Scottish education.
  • Director of Science, OGAT, Christine McGhie has written a blog detailing some very useful tips on checking pupil engagement and learning during live remote lessons.
  • Urgent Action Required - addressing disadvantage - Dan Nicholls highlights the need for educationalists to look at equity through the eyes of the disadvantaged and lists 6 points of action.
  • The Association of Directors of Education (ADES) have a collection of interesting think pieces and research articles linked to the future of education post-pandemic.
  • Remake Learning, a network that aims to ignite engaging, relevant, and equitable learning practices in support of young people navigating rapid social and technological change, has produced a report titled, Remaking Tomorrow: Learning in a Post-Pandemic Future.
  • Fife Education and Children's Services Directorate have produced a Sway entitled Learning at Home for All. The supportive guidance and examples contained have been drawn from feedback and discussions with Headteachers, Educational Psychologists, the Supporting Learners' Service, middle leaders and staff.
  • Martha Cleveland-Innes and Dan Wilton at Athabasca University in Canada have written A comprehensive guide to developing Blended Learning approaches
  • Rapid Research Information Forum in Australia has produced a report detailing Differential learning outcomes for online versus in-class education
  • Case Study: Kingussie High School – a seven step plan towards a digital school culture published by INTEL might be of use for longer term planning depending upon each school’s circumstances.
  • The West Partnership report Effective remote and digital learning, May 2020, defines key concepts relating to remote and digital learning, explores effective remote learning environments and lists tips and resource links for both staff and parents. It also signposts an Education Scotland glossary that provides useful definitions of the key terms discussed in the report.
  • The Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists has produced some resources to support children, particularly children with addition support needs, with the transition back into educational buildings.
  • A brave and reimagined new world? - This blog by Andrew Boulind focuses on the recovery from the effects of COVID-19 on education. Andrew currently works with Integrated Children and Family Services at Aberdeen City Council, and last year completed the Middle Leaders - Leading Change programme.
  • Poverty-related attainment gap: Time to think differently - "To address the poverty-related attainment gap, we need to understand learning, teaching and attainment as deeply social and woven into the ecologies of institutions and communities." Former Professor of Education at Strathclyde University, Sue Ellis, responds to our recently-commissioned evidence review of the poverty-related attainment gap.
  • Unlocking the Potential’ A manifesto for educational reform in Scotland prepared by researchers at the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change at the University of Glasgow March 2021.
  • Additional support for learning: Pupils who struggle to 'fit in' must not be forgotten - This thought-provoking article published in the Times Educational Supplement (TES) highlights how much more difficult life has been for children and young people with additional support needs as a result of the pandemic.

Note: where a web link is included, this is not an endorsement by Education Scotland. It is intended to illustrate the various range of approaches taken to the recovery period during COVID-19. This page will be updated as further examples emerge.

Reflective questions

  • How do we know what the specific needs are of practitioners, learners and families are within our contexts?
  • How have practitioners' strengths in areas such as digital skills been utilised and what provision is available to support their ongoing learning?
  • What provision are we making for learners and families who have limited or no access to a digital solution?
  • How is our response taking into account short, medium and longer term considerations?
  • How are we working in partnership with others to learn from their experiences and promote a co-ordinated approach to remote learning?