More importantly, the pandemic highlighted areas of social inequality and the lack of infrastructure for some schools, especially those serving the more deprived areas of our society. Teachers reported that not only did the school itself lack the technology to deliver the online teaching that was being demanded, but many of their pupils did not have access to technology and other education resources in their homes. Although, schools serving these communities, tried to overcome these problems by sending the teachers out to the homes of these pupils, they still experienced difficulties. Importantly, the time that could be given to these pupils was insufficient because of the numbers these remote teaching teams had to serve, but equally frustrating was the environments they were attempting to teach in.
Most of the homes that they attended were multi-occupancy and due to having many family members in one home, there was a lack of suitable space for the pupil to fully focus and learn. Teachers feared this would widen the attainment gap between the pupils who resided in more deprived areas of the community and those from less deprived areas. However, trying to take the positive side from this gloomy picture, teachers note that they now have more awareness of the issues these pupils face and have more understanding of the difficulties they experience regarding completing homework and studying for tests and exams. As a result, this learning experience can be used by teaching professionals who serve the more socially deprived areas of society to rethink expectations and adapt pedagogy to provide the support these pupils need.
Moving forward there are many lessons to be learnt from the pandemic experience that could help to build stronger and equal learning communities. However, the question remains: will educational professionals be afforded the autonomy to make the changes needed to ensure a more equal education system?
In the next contribution to EURA Conversations Sophie Jerram writes on the reinforcement of Aotearoa New Zealand's Pacific island nation geography through the Covid-19 pandemic.