Public Respect For Education Sector Rises Sharply Since Lockdown

Children may have mixed feelings about finally going back to school, but their parents’ appreciation of the education system has soared since the troubled days of lockdown. With schools re-opening this week, new research from ThoughtWorks, the global software consultancy, has revealed a heightened level of appreciation for the UK’s education sector. A quarter (25%) of people say that they hold teachers and schools in much higher regard than they did before the pandemic.

More than 1.5 billion students globally have been affected by school and university closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic and, despite these challenges, leaders in the education sector have pulled out all the stops to support young learners. The ThoughtWorks study shows that technology has been a vital enabler over the course of the pandemic, with remote schooling (file sharing and access to documents and text) working well for almost nine in ten households (89%). Further, on the back of the home isolation experience, more than one in five people predict that online schooling will become the norm in ten years’ time (23%).

Support for Education Over the Next Decade

The research also suggests that support for the education system will grow in years to come. Looking at the shape of society in the next decade, when survey respondents were asked about getting value from their taxes in 2030, 18% of taxpayers said they would be willing to accept tax hikes to support further and higher education. This rose to almost a third of people (30%) when it came to increasing taxes for primary and secondary education.

Within this, it was also believed that technology could do more to modernise our schools and universities. Almost half (47%) of respondents said that technology could be used more efficiently to further improve teaching services in higher education as well as primary and secondary schooling.

David Howell, Portfolio Director, Public Sector at ThoughtWorks, commented: “2020 has fully tested the nation’s public services. In addition to the NHS and emergency services, teachers have had to adapt to the challenges created by the pandemic, cast out from their bricks and mortar classrooms into unfamiliar digital landscapes.

“In a week when schools re-open their doors to millions of students, let’s not forget how technology kept the education system going during months of lockdown. Some may look back on it as a quirky chapter in our history, but the concept of tech-enabled distance-learning may well become the norm within the next ten years.”