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What has the pandemic done to the education landscape?

Written by Frank Milner on Wednesday, 09 December 2020. Posted in Insight

2020 has placed an unprecedented strain on the education industry. As schools closed and students resorted to learning from home, education establishments all over the country had to find a way to still deliver learning and resources to children

What has the pandemic done to the education landscape?

2020 has placed an unprecedented strain on the education industry. As schools closed and students resorted to learning from home, education establishments all over the country had to find a way to still deliver learning and resources to children - for some, this year was their most significant education milestone yet, with GCSEs and A Levels. Then when September came around, bringing the usual back-to-school rush, a sigh of relief was heard throughout the nation as things returned to normal for many families. With the pandemic still causing havoc, however, I predict that the education industry isn’t out of the woods just yet. What does this mean and what impact will it have on education franchises?

The first point to unpick is, as the pandemic continues to unfold, it can be expected that the majority of students will be working to catch up after the disruption. When students make their way through the next academic year, that’s when we’ll start to see the true impact of the pandemic on learning loss. This means more students and families than before will turn to educational support services to develop those missing gaps and get students back on track. 

For a small proportion, unfortunately, it may require years to recover their lost learning. Teachers are working double time to ensure students receive the education they missed during school closures, whilst doing their best to catch up students who missed lessons due to illness. It’s a sad truth that students who are going to be most impacted are those who were already struggling and those who have learning disabilities, disorders or difficulties. 

This increased pace of instruction as teachers work to fill in the gaps means students might not have the time to process information - on top of teachers not having the time to accommodate students who might be struggling slightly more than their peers. Students with additional learning needs tend to face challenges with online learning as they often lack the executive functioning skills needed to work through that medium. These students are also often the most negatively impacted by change and unpredictability, meaning there’s little to no room for learning as they’re more worried about the pandemic and its effects than their studies. 

After discussing the state of the education industry, I’d like to deliver a few of my predictions for the next year. I’ve spent over a decade in education now, and I’ve experienced many trends within the industry that have shaken things up. Whilst the pandemic has rocked the boat a little too much for everyone’s liking, there are still some clear routes that I expect this will take.  

  • We’re likely to see a wider attainment gap, with struggling students being more behind due to lost learning during school closures, adapting to online learning, the increased instruction pace as teachers work to fill in the gaps, and a lack of - or difficulty with - accommodating the learning needs of those who learn differently. 
  • We’re likely to see technology becoming an even bigger part of the educational landscape moving forward. Schools and teachers have mastered how to incorporate technology into the classroom across all year levels and in ways we would never have expected. There have been a lot of benefits from this, like increased communication with families, increased student accountability and ownership over their learning, more student-directed learning, and greater student independence. Embracing this technology will be paramount to navigating the way forward. 
  • We’re very likely to see schools and authorities building well-developed and actionable emergency plans should we find ourselves in a similar situation. This will ensure schools and students are able to move relatively seamlessly to alternative learning avenues and reduce the risk of learning loss, should the physical classroom need to be vacated once again. 

So, by now you’re probably asking yourself, “Why is he talking about this?” Well, for education franchises, these points above mean that we expect to see an influx of attention. In this year alone, Tutor Doctor has added 70 new units to the global network, with 20 of them in the UK, as savvy business owners spotted the opportunity to provide help. For other brands, I suspect they too have been experiencing heightened demand for their services, and this will be sure to rise in the coming months. The pandemic has taught people that education will soldier on no matter what, and I predict many eyes turning our way to spot the lucrative business opportunity as we enter the new year.

About the Author

Frank Milner

Frank Milner

Having worked as a stockbroker, built a successful insurance business, acted as a sales coach and then taken on a vice president role at WSI, the digital marketing franchise, Milner has an impressive and varied background in business, franchising, sales and marketing. In his current role as CEO of Tutor Doctor, the private tutoring franchise, he's seen the company grow globally to include 500 franchisees spread across the world, including the UK.

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