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News1st April 2021

#ArkTalks “We mustn’t write our students off as the Covid generation”

The Education Recovery Commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins, joined Ark CEO Lucy Heller and Ark Elvin Academy Principal Becky Curtis for the inaugural #ArkTalks event chaired by Times columnist Rachel Sylvester on 31 March.

A video recording of the one-hour event – focused on the recovery of students in the wake of the pandemic – can be seen below.

Sir Kevan expressed his admiration for schools’ work through the pandemic, “We’ve seen schools turn on a sixpence. The step forward we’ve seen for technology, we need to capture. It’s been an inspiration, but we’ve also seen variation.”

He said that recovery was “the challenge of our generation” for the education system.

Sir Kevan explained that some students have had a meagre experience and warned that we have wiped out 10 years of progress in narrowing the gap as a result of the pandemic. He added recovery must be fair, focused, and fearless, and improvements in the social, emotional and physical development of children was vital.

Becky Curtis said: “I feel fiercely defensive of this generation. We mustn’t write them off as the Covid Generation. The vast majority of our children are delighted to be back and the best we can do for them is provide the normal reality of being back in the classroom, being with their great teachers, delivering a fantastic curriculum.”

She acknowledged that a small but significant minority of children have had a really tough time and that there is no magic wand to fix the challenges that these students have faced.

Lucy Heller added: “Recovery is a long haul. A matter of years, not months. We need to find the right call to arms. People have had an exhausting year. There’s a real risk of losing people and the catastrophising isn’t helpful.”

She expressed her hope that we will get back to feeling excited about the future of education.

Join us for future #ArkTalks events:

#ArkTalks: How should we rebuild childhood after the pandemic? With the Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza on Wednesday 28 April. Please register here.

#ArkTalks: What is the future of digital technology in schools? With Andreas Schleicher, Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills at Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Tuesday 25 May. You can register here.

Read the transcript here: #ArkTalks 31.03.21 transcript.pdf