3. Strengthening resilience at the broader learning environment level through strategic networks and empowered education staff

An individual’s resilience can be nurtured by strengthening protective environmental factors, and the social environments they inhabit undoubtedly influence their health and development (OECD, 2021[1]). As environments in which children and young people, such as Sofia and Lucas, spend a substantial share of their time, education settings are therefore optimal contexts for fostering learner resilience (OECD, 2021[1]; Caleon and King, 2020[2]).

But at the same time, education institutions themselves are vulnerable to a variety of shocks and stresses which threaten their capacity to deliver quality education and to which they need to make themselves more resilient. These potential shocks vary but can be organised into four main categories:

  • Disruption to their relationships with themselves—e.g. change in institutional leadership, change in demands on teachers’ and leaders’ time and skills, change in staff well-being;

  • Disruption to relationships with others—e.g. change in partners in the community, change in local institutional networks; change in quality of relationships with stakeholders;

  • Disruption to access to learning resources—e.g. change in supply and demand for material and human resources, change in capability of technological resources, institutional closure or damage, change in delivery mode;

  • Disruption to education and employment pathways—e.g. change in curricula or qualifications, change in local employment opportunities, change in attendance and enrolment.

Education institutions can become more responsive and resilient to these various disruptions by capitalising on their position at the interplay between learner and system level. Through analysis of international evidence, this framework identifies two core policy areas for responsiveness and resilience in education at the level of the broader learning environment: 1) Positioning the education institution at the heart of a strategic network of actors and services, and; 2) Empowering education staff to lead richer learning processes across environments.

Examining these core policy areas further, this chapter offers a range of practical advice drawn from international policy experiences to support policy makers to better equip their education systems to navigate disruption and change in the short and medium term. Of course, the transition towards more responsive and resilient education systems will also require long-term efforts that address challenging questions about the future of education. With this in mind, the chapter closes by proposing some key reflections that build on specific components of the framework to help policy makers begin to bridge the gap between short-, medium- and long-term action.

As previously posited by the Education Policy Outlook, at the heart of resilient education systems are people and processes—they are the true protagonists in the journey towards unlocking a learner’s full potential (OECD, 2020[3]). Letting them play their role means embracing the relational nature of learning in all its forms, recognising that learners’ interactions with their peers, parents, teachers and other professionals matter more in this journey than the tools and spaces through which learning occurs. Indeed, the institutional closures and emergency education measures put in place by governments during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 reminded us that learning can occur anywhere and at any time (OECD, 2020[3]) and that the social function of formal schooling must not be neglected.

By the end of 2020, the OECD had identified developing partnerships beyond education institutions as one of four key areas of policy priority in the context of the pandemic in analysis conducted across 43 education systems. Furthermore, evidence from policies implemented before the pandemic indicates that key characteristics of success in policies to address learning gaps include strong relationships between the different actors involved and a strong connection to the social space of the target student (OECD, 2020[3]). However, although many of the guidelines for school re-opening published by over 30 education systems in 2020 stressed the importance of maintaining clear and regular communication with parents, only some provided specific ideas for facilitating this. Even fewer promoted measures for deeper collaboration (OECD, 2020[3]) and survey data from 2021 corroborates this (see Figure 3.1).

Among education systems participating in the Special Survey of 2021, the three most common types of interactions between teachers, students and their parents encouraged by governments during school closures in 2020 focused on maintaining communication. Although phone calls were the most common type of interaction, text-based tools (e.g. E-platforms, emails, messaging services) also dominated, which may foster more information-focused, unidirectional exchanges. Other communication tools encouraging deeper two-way interaction such as video-conferencing and home visits were less common although technological or sanitary restrictions likely inhibited these.

Data from before the pandemic show the pre-existing challenge of nurturing deeper collaboration with external actors or services. In the OECD’s Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2018, over two-thirds (71.6%) of school principals on average across the OECD considered that their school co-operates “quite a bit” or “a lot” with the community. At the same time, only around half of principals on average in TALIS reported involving parents or guardians “quite a bit” or “a lot” (47.9%). In the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018, around half of 15-year-olds across the OECD were in schools whose principals reported being in regular consultation with one or more experts (47.1%), or collaborating with local libraries (49.4%).

In the years before the pandemic, too often classrooms were referred to as “black boxes”, with the perception that little of what happened inside classrooms permeated through their walls. In recent years, trends in education policy have aimed to “open” this box; first, through accountability measures (e.g. implementation of student examinations, measures for teacher appraisal, or school evaluations), and then through efforts to increase trust and collaboration, or to strengthen formative evaluation processes (OECD, 2019[5]). Going even further, education systems need to continue unwrapping the black box by looking beyond a binary delivery of education – home or education institution, online or in-person – to embrace the much wider spectrum of formal, informal and non-formal teaching and learning (OECD, 2020[3]). Strengthening mechanisms for the co-creation of education policies and processes is also necessary in order to meet the needs, passions and hopes of all students more fully.

At the more systemic level, previous evidence collected provides examples of successful partnerships between governments and social partners in policy reform. In the survey “Success in Hard Times”, conducted with by the Trade Union Advisory Committee for the Education Policy Outlook 2019, the largest areas of successful collaboration between unions and governments that were reported by union representatives were payment/compensation (52%), and improving teachers’ working conditions (48%), but also curriculum (41%) (OECD, 2019[5]). More recent evidence collected by the OECD and Education International in the context of the pandemic shows how important collaboration with social partners has been for the continuity and recovery of education delivery, such as in Denmark, Ireland or Japan (OECD-Education International, 2021[6]).

At the more local level, a wealth of evidence points to the positive impact of parental involvement at preschool or school level on a range of academic, social, and well-being outcomes, particularly for disadvantaged and immigrant students (Epstein et al., 2002[7]; OECD, 2018[8]; OECD, 2014[9]; OECD, 2018[10]). Efforts undertaken during the pandemic may have further helped education systems to move in this direction, with parents, particularly those of younger children, playing a key supporting role during school closures. While this unprecedented situation undoubtedly involved challenges for parents, teachers and education institutions, it was also an opportunity to strengthen the home-school relationship and to build the capacity of parents to support learning at home over the longer term (Winthrop, n.d.[11]).

Through developing learning partnerships with local community bodies, education institutions can also extend the educational offer and the resources available for learning (OECD, 2017[12]). The benefits are multi-directional: schools and other places of learning can act as hubs that connect individuals and families with resources in the local community and beyond. Parent and community volunteers can make a vital contribution to learning and extra-curricular activities (OECD, 2018[8]; OECD, 2014[9]). Institutional and governmental efforts to engage with partners beyond the public sector can also be of great benefit to students. Strategic collaborations ranging from outreach programmes with community groups to opening campus facilities to public and outside users can help develop learner, institution and community resilience. Such collaborative partnerships within, between and beyond educational institutions also foster greater opportunity for continuity of services during moments of disruption and innovation (Burns and Gottschalk, 2019[13]; Williams, 2017[14]; Guerriero, 2020[15]).

No less importantly, connections between educational institutions and employers can create opportunities for work-based learning, career talks and other activities that support students’ transitions to the workplace (Musset and Mytna Kurekova, 2018[16]; Inter-Agency Working Group on Work-Based Learning, 2019[17]). They can also help better engage students in their education. Strategies to prevent school failure and grade repetition and to address learning gaps can be more successful when adopting a holistic approach through collaboration between different levels of the education system, different services supporting students at risk and also, importantly, local employers (OECD, 2014[9]; OECD, 2018[18]; OECD, 2020[3]).

See Table 3.1 for a list of policies considered in this analysis; [֎] see Chapter 5 for further information.

In the short term, resilient and responsive learning environments can be fostered by pro-actively calling upon the support of stakeholders – parents, community actors and employers – to help facilitate learning in different contexts, including in times of crisis. Over the medium term, policy makers can establish the conditions for more effective collaboration among these different actors by working to remove barriers to participation in the life of education institutions, and to equip teachers and education institutions with the skills and tools they need to engage and work effectively with a range of partners. This section identifies specific policy efforts in terms of engagement with parents, communities and employers.

As outlined above, while many education systems focused on promoting communication between educators and parents during school closures, deeper engagement efforts were less common. Yet strong collaborative relationships with parents are critical in building resilient and responsive learning environments around students. In the future, education systems seeking to strengthen resilience could learn from existing international initiatives that offer more formalised approaches to parental engagement or that actively involve parents in planning and provision in crisis or non-crisis contexts.

As part of these efforts, governments should not underestimate the importance of strengthening the capacities of teachers, parents and other actors to help them develop this bridge between home and school. For example, Australia has established a national parental engagement network, appointed and supported local parental engagement champions, and examined evidence of policy and programme effectiveness to develop common approaches to practice, measurement and evaluation. Based on this research, a report from the Australian Parent Engagement Network highlights the importance of building capacity at the local level and recommends incorporating parental engagement as a component in initial teacher training and continuing professional development. It also recommends building on existing approaches to benchmarking and evaluating practice within nationally consistent frameworks in order to embed a culture of evidence-based practice (The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, 2017[19]). To help parents, Ireland’s strategy to combat educational disadvantage includes family literacy initiatives and a home-school-community liaison scheme which aims to improve the outcomes of young people by empowering an adult in their lives (OECD, 2018[20]) (see also Table 2.5 in Chapter 2).

When education institutions closed in 2020, many education systems built on existing practices to support parents and carers in providing education in their homes. Estonia gathered feedback from parents and other stakeholders to inform future emergency education measures. Colombia֎ also sought to strengthen the home-school relationship in the wake of the pandemic by providing schools with guidelines and resources and by launching a series of online conferences for education professionals and families. In the same way, the Brazilian state of Maranhão֎ collaborated with a non-profit organisation to distribute video, photo and audio content with simple suggestions on how to turn household tasks into learning opportunities, without the need for extra resources. The strategy achieved wide coverage among hard-to-reach families by using existing school WhatsApp groups, and enlisting the support of municipal social assistance departments. In Slovenia֎, guidelines produced by the National Education Institute for the start of the 2020/21 recommended that schools organise remote consultations with parents to keep them informed of their child’s progress (Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of Slovenia, 2020[21]).

Community engagement is another building block of resilience for education institutions. Well before the COVID-19 pandemic, education institutions often already collaborated with partners in the private or voluntary sectors to provide different types of services. For example, collaboration within and between local networks has been identified as key to the success of an initiative in Germany֎, which offers extra-curricular and cultural activities to students from disadvantaged backgrounds between the ages of 3 and 18. As well as providing activities that support the resilience of disadvantaged students, the initiative supports the development of new partnerships at the local level. An evaluation from 2019 found that these networks benefited from the expertise of a broad range of actors, including schools, youth clubs, and cultural institutions, and contributed to the goal of building permanent networks of support for disadvantaged children (Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany, 2019[22]). Furthermore, a scheme in Japan brings local residents into schools to deliver extra-curricular activities. This has allowed teachers to focus on pedagogical activities while maintaining Japan’s established tradition of holistic education.

In the context of the pandemic, community engagement often became a lifeline for ensuring education continuity and providing essential services for learners and their families. For example, in the Czech Republic, locally recruited volunteers, such as higher education students, offered support to families of children with particularly challenging needs in aspects related to public health or tutoring. The government also collaborated with the O2 Foundation to launch an online learning portal for schools (OECD, 2020[23]).

Indeed, to a greater extent than before, these collaborations included partnerships with telecommunications and other private sector companies to improve access to remote learning, collaboration with other national public services such as the postal network and engagement with the EdTech sector to collect feedback on student, parent and teacher experiences of remote learning (OECD, 2020[24]). Some 60% of the education systems involved in the Special Survey established agreements with mobile communications operators or Internet firms to remove accessibility barriers to participation in distance learning (OECD/UIS/UNESCO/UNICEF/WB, 2021[4]). In countries and economies, such as Chile, Greece, Slovenia or Turkey, Internet providers and telecommunications companies worked with governments to provide learners with free data or access to online learning materials.

Looking towards the post-COVID recovery period, and foster resilience in the short term, education institutions and other places of learning could mobilise partnerships with community actors to reinforce mechanisms for learner and institutional resilience, such as to address learning gaps (e.g. homework assistance and peer-to-peer tutoring). Such efforts could also help strengthen resilience at learner level (see Chapter 2) (OECD, 2020[25]).

There is much evidence pointing to the central importance of employer engagement. To be truly effective, employer engagement should be promoted as part of longer-term, holistic partnerships. Indeed, the capacity of partnerships to provide more holistic support has been found as key for the success of some initiatives, even when focusing on specific objectives. In the Youth Guarantee scheme (2013), the European Union’s initiative to enhance youth transitions to the labour market in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008, broad local partnerships have enabled holistic approaches that effectively support students. Their stability over time has helped establish the level of trust required for knowledge sharing and smooth transitions of students from education to training. By their nature, these approaches are only possible through the alignment and co-ordination of education institutions, employers, and public employment services, among others (OECD, 2014[26]).

While it is relatively common for countries and economies to involve employers in the design and implementation of vocational education and training (VET) programmes at the system level, some countries and economies have gone even further, seeking to develop the relationship between employers and individual institutions. VET reforms in the Czech Republic place a formal requirement on schools to co-operate with employers in curriculum design, practical training, final assessment and teacher development. As part of the implementation of its upper-secondary school reform, states across Brazil have developed plans identifying potential partners for the delivery of vocational and general education programmes, such as regional employers. This kind of mapping exercise can help identify partnerships and other resources at the local or regional level.

In the same way, recent VET reforms in the Slovak Republic have focused on strengthening the capacity of teachers, instructors, and other VET staff to collaborate with employers. For example, to incentivise and strengthen collaboration between VET schools and employers as part of its dual vocational training model, measures taken include, in 2018, reducing some of the financial disincentives and administrative burdens placed on schools and companies. The Slovak Republic has also unified its curricula for dual and non-dual training, giving employers greater influence over the content of vocational training (national information provided to the Education Policy Outlook).

Also related to VET, one of the key strengths found in Spain’s֎ dual vocational training model, introduced in 2012, has been that it promotes the exchange of knowledge between employers and educational institutions (JP Morgan Chase & Co., 2016[27]). Employers and entrepreneurs work collaboratively with VET providers to design and implement the curriculum. For the companies involved, this collaboration has the benefit of delivering training better suited to their needs. At the same time, an evaluation from 2016 highlights the challenges VET providers face in establishing partnerships with small and medium enterprises, which may not have the capacity to support dual training. It recommends working through the supply chain of large companies to reach smaller ones, or working with trade associations or intermediary organisations (JP Morgan Chase & Co., 2016[27]).

  • Nurture more holistic, longer-term and deeper collaborations between education actors. A wide array of education actors – parents, the community or employers – can support education institutions and students. In the medium term, policy makers need to tap into this potential for collaboration. Evidence shows that these relationships will be most fruitful when they are more holistic and nurtured among a wider range of actors over time. In this way, partners can develop greater trust and identify new, more meaningful, opportunities for collaboration that can eventually grow from isolated initiatives into mainstream practices.

    • Map ongoing collaboration between education institutions and other relevant local actors to protect newly established partnerships. In many education systems, the pandemic has triggered significant changes in the way education institutions interact with parents, the local community, employers, and other local partners. In the short-term, mapping all of the local resources and partnerships that education institutions can draw on, taking stock of the capacities and dispositions available and required is an essential component of preparing for future disruptions and can contribute to further strategic improvement (Pigozzi, 1999[30]). This initial step allows education systems to take stock of emerging practices that may be worth protecting and encouraging. Later on, and combined with monitoring efforts, it can also help to ensure that initial measures put in place in the context of the pandemic evolve to meet the changing needs of families and communities.

    • Develop the capacity of different actors to engage effectively in productive education processes. Education actors need the skills, tools, and space to make the most of these partnerships. Over the medium term, this involves ensuring that teaching professionals are adequately prepared and supported to collaborate, and that they make use of practices that have been shown to be effective. Similarly, developing the capacity of parents to support their child’s learning at home will be more important in contexts of student disadvantage (Pigozzi, 1999[30]).

In times of change and crisis, the resilience of individuals and communities depends on their capacity to continue accessing the services that sustain their well-being (Ungar, 2011[46]). The interaction, collaboration and self-synchronisation between individuals and entities that needs to take place to make this possible are key components of resilience thinking (Linkov, Trump and Hynes, 2019[47]). Such approaches have previously been at the heart of crisis responses in education.

Establishing communication between different youth and public services, and locating different services in one access point, plays an important role in helping individuals and communities adjust to adverse circumstances (Ungar, 2011[46]). In this sense, building these extended services around schools and other places of learning also leaves these institutions better placed to adapt to the needs of students, families, and communities during situations of change. Particularly in difficult environments, this more centralised service delivery can mitigate social exclusion by reducing the costs to students and families of accessing these services (OECD, 2021[38]).

Education research and policy evaluations highlight the importance of professional collaboration in strengthening links between different services. While co-ordination often refers to the institutional links between different public services and agencies, the success of these links often depends on the quality of the relationships between the different professionals that support learners and families (Kochhar-Bryant and Heishman, 2012[48]). Since bringing together different services will often involve establishing new working relationships, it is important to allow time for these relationships to develop (Kochhar-Bryant and Heishman, 2012[48]; Collective Wisdom Decisions, 2012[49]). This evidence also points to the need for a degree of shared responsibility for outcomes, but also a clear division of responsibility for different actions.

See Table 3.2 for a list of policies considered in this analysis; [֎] see Chapter 5 for further information.

In recent years, many countries and economies have taken measures to promote different forms of inter-agency collaboration and to co-ordinate the provision of services in a single access point. This report identifies two main approaches followed by countries and economies. The first approach operates through institutional arrangements and governance structures that bring together actors from the education sector with actors from other key youth sectors to work on common goals or strategies. This approach forms the basis of early childhood strategies in countries and economies such as Brazil, Israel, and Ireland. The second approach operates more at the institutional level, bringing specialists or services from outside the education system into schools and other places of learning as in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, Chile and Finland. Both these approaches take a holistic view of the complex needs of learners and communities and aim to meet these needs more comprehensively. As such, their success depends on local knowledge as well as national co-ordination.

For the first approach, Brazil and Israel have some interesting examples at early childhood education level. Brazil has introduced a legal framework for designing and implementing early childhood policies through inter-sectoral collaboration, involving public and civil society actors in the provision of services. The framework identifies priority areas for early childhood policy and introduces mechanisms to articulate actions within these sectors. The federal government, and several state and municipal governments, have since implemented inter-sectoral initiatives for early childhood, some of which integrate up to 15 sectors. This had led to greater synergy, efficiency, and comprehensiveness of care for children aged 0-6. At the same time, integrated approaches to data collection and management have been less prevalent in these initiatives, and Brazil has yet to fully realise the potential of integrated funding mechanisms (OECD, 2021[32]). In a similar vein, Israel֎ established an Early Childhood Council with the aim of promoting co-ordination and collaboration between the different bodies that provide early childhood services, and identifying gaps in provision. The Council is chaired by the Minister of Education and includes representatives from health, finance, justice, and welfare and social services, as well as experts and practitioners from the early childhood sector.

For the second approach, Chile, Israel, Canada or Finland offer other useful approaches for bringing together different services within an education institution. Chile’s National Board of School Aid and Scholarships (JUNAEB) offers a wide range of scholarships and programmes that support disadvantaged students to participate and succeed in education, in collaboration with outside agencies. Many of these services are accessed through schools. JUNAEB also runs school holiday programmes and health education for students in disadvantaged schools and offers free meals and food subsidies for learners in early childhood education and care (ECEC) through to adult and higher education. The OECD has found that the various programmes have contributed to an increase in student enrolment and attendance over the last two decades (OECD, 2017[50]).

As well as providing interventions for students, a dedicated unit within Israel’s Ministry of Education supports education teams in schools and tertiary institutions. The focus is on developing the capacity of local actors to respond to crises and their consequences through training and support. As part of its activities, the unit trains staff in education institutions in the Masha model, an evidence-informed framework for providing emotional first aid. The model is based around four key activities: a ‘commitment’ on the part of the educator to support the student in need; a ‘doing’ phase where the educator encourages the student to carry out specific tasks related to the crisis; cognitive questioning to help the student move from an overwhelming emotional state to a functional state, and a phase where the student constructs a story of the event with support from the educator. As part of the training from the emergency team, the educator learns the principles of the model and tests ways of implementing in a crisis. Among the key strengths of the MASHA model are its simplicity – making it accessible to all members of the institution – and the speed at which support is delivered in the event of a crisis (National information provided to the OECD).

Another initiative already with some trajectory is Nova Scotia (Canada)’s SchoolsPlus model, which places the school at the centre of a range of integrated services that support the well-being of young people, families, and communities. SchoolsPlus facilitators and community outreach workers act as a link between schools and communities, help families navigate the services available in the local area, and highlight gaps in provision. Evaluations have found that the strategy has increased collaboration between government departments and improved the co-ordination of public services such as justice, education, community services, and health. Service providers reported that it has given them better access to schools and young people, and that the co-ordination of services has benefited children and families with complex needs that were not previously being met (Collective Wisdom Decisions, 2012[49]). However, evaluations also highlight some of the challenges of ensuring accountability in co-ordinated or collaborative service provision. If accountability is shared too widely, there is a danger that no single agency or professional feels responsible for outcomes, yet placing responsibility on one sole entity could be an obstacle to collaboration (Collective Wisdom Decisions, 2012[49]). This points to the need to establish clear roles for all parties. More recent developments to the model in 2020 include the establishment of a provincial-level leadership team and new positions at the regional level to liaise with health, justice and community services. Through this collaboration, Nova Scotia aims to develop governance structures and policies for integrated services in education.

Collegial support matters as well for the success of this type of initiative, as can be testified by Finland’s Student Welfare Act. This initiative seeks to guarantee all students access to well-being services such as psychologists, social workers, and healthcare. It also seeks to shift the focus from responding to the well-being problems of individual students to promoting the well-being of all students, emphasising collaboration between professionals, and with students’ families. Finland has experienced challenges in ensuring the availability of psychologists and other well-being services in different parts of the country (Skantz, 2018[54]). Interviews in an evaluation study suggest that psychologists may be reluctant to apply for posts where there is only one job advertised, due to concerns about collegial support. This is an important reminder that support specialists, like teachers, benefit from the exchange of ideas in communities of practice relevant to their field. Confidentiality procedures were another challenge identified, which must strike a delicate balance between protecting sensitive information and providing access to information that facilitates collaboration. High staff turnover can also be a barrier to effective information sharing (Summanen, Rumpu and Huhtanen, 2018[55]).

  • Remain aware of the key broader role that education institutions play as social equalisers, facilitating the access of students and families to different public resources. Education institutions will continue to be stretched by multiple demands in the post-pandemic context. The period of economic recovery will bring about new challenges for learners, families, and communities. Over the medium term, governments can support them by breaking down silos between the different public services that support their well-being and by identifying and bridging gaps in provision. Local actors in education institutions could also more easily identify these synergies, based on their unique perspective on the needs of the learners and communities they serve. Since the provision of extended services or the management of partnerships that make them possible can have implications for the staffing, funding, and infrastructure of education institutions, resources to support these activities, particularly in challenging times, need consideration.

  • Clarify roles and nurture quality relationships for a more efficient extended collaboration of public services. As people are at the heart of these processes, quality relationships among professionals matter to achieve better outcomes. Implementation plans need to take account of the time it takes for these collaborative relationships to develop, and to provide spaces, incentives and opportunities for this. The professionals that support individual learners or families may move on to other roles or locations. Strategies should hence be designed to ensure that key information stays within the institution, and reaches the right actors (see Chapter 4). Similarly, accountability systems that both facilitate and encourage collaboration between professionals and services must be part of the process. Shared responsibility, but also clarity of roles and overarching objectives, as well as opportunities for collegial support, can bring more benefits to all parties involved in the longer term.

Education institutions are the unifying force within learning eco-systems, convening different modes of learning, spaces, resources and actors around a more coherent educational experience tailored to each learner. Educators must be supported to embrace such diversity, owning and shaping learning processes, rather than retransmitting them. This can stimulate greater innovation and responsiveness to learners’ needs (Hannon et al., 2019[59]; Istance and Paniagua, 2019[60]).

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to support educators to adapt to new modes of teaching and learning has been a key priority for governments. By the end of 2020, many education systems were moving beyond simply digitising and collating educational resources for educators, as was common in the emergency phase, to promoting the use of more sophisticated technology and peer collaboration. However, operational elements of new modes of learning were emphasised over pedagogy, and there was less attention paid to educator well-being (OECD, 2020[3]). More recent survey data suggest similar patterns in planned measures for 2021 but with some promising developments (see Figure 3.2).

Among education systems participating in the Special Survey, the three most common types of support for school teachers that governments reported planning to offer in 2021 focused on providing and promoting professional learning, including through peer collaboration. Yet several education systems were also planning to implement measures to facilitate participation. This includes incentivisation (e.g. by covering costs or teaching duties) or adapting accountability measures such as teacher appraisal or school evaluation (OECD/UIS/UNESCO/UNICEF/WB, 2021[4]). This is important as, according to TALIS 2018, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, on average across participating OECD countries and economies, nearly half (47.6%) of lower-secondary teachers reported receiving no incentives for participating in professional development. Furthermore, well over half (20 out of 37) of the education systems participating in the Special Survey reported that, during the crisis period in 2020, schools or school boards/committees could decide how teachers should adapt their teaching practices, and, in around half of these systems (11 out of 20), these decisions were taken in full autonomy (OECD, 2021[61]). This may have afforded such schools more flexibility to be responsive to teachers’ needs.

In the COVID-19 pandemic, an almost immediate reaction of many education systems was to provide educators with opportunities for professional learning. This shows clear appreciation for the centrality of the role of educators within formal learning. Nevertheless, in the future, efforts to support educators to adapt to new and changing circumstances will also need to consider how this can be balanced with complementary measures related to collaboration, well-being, leadership and decision-making capacity.

Across the globe, local actors – education staff, civil society bodies and local education authorities – were the driving force behind education continuity strategies in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the more immediate term, their capacity to act will be just as important in the years to come, as they seek to address learning gaps that opened up during closures, and to help learners adjust to changed economic circumstances. In the medium term, as they cater to an increasingly diverse set of learners and socio-economic contexts, individual institutions also need to develop tailored strategies that respond to the needs of their learners and the local economy.

Empowering actors with the autonomy, tools and capacity to initiate change at the local level – or to adapt national policies to their specific context – can strengthen the responsiveness and resilience of education institutions to the needs of the communities they serve. Furthermore, it can also support innovation. TALIS 2018 shows that teachers who feel a higher sense of control over their target class are more likely to report working in an innovative environment. Importantly, however, the process of adapting the curriculum and education practices to the local context need not involve decentralisation, and some countries and economies are seeking to build capacity for local innovation within a centralised system. In addition, while autonomy allows local actors to adapt their practice to the needs of learners, well-designed accountability measures are important to ensure that education professionals take responsibility for learning outcomes (Guerriero, 2020[15]).

See Table 3.3 for a list of policies considered in this analysis; [֎] see Chapter 5 for further information.

Analysis carried out by the Education Policy Outlook in 2019 revealed that several countries and economies had sought to transfer administrative and pedagogical responsibilities from the central government to local institutional actors based in schools, higher education institutions (HEIs) and municipalities. In 2017, half of decisions relating to the organisation of learning across OECD countries and economies were taken by schools, compared to 15% of decisions taken by central government, on average (OECD, 2018[62]). Results from the Special Survey suggest that in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, decisions relating to teaching arrangements and pedagogical practices were mostly taken at the school level. Alongside a preference for local decision making in matters regarding teaching practices (see above), decisions on the resources available during school closures were generally taken locally, in collaboration or consultation with other levels. Only in 8 countries and economies were these decisions taken in full autonomy: by the central level (4 countries and economies), state level (2 countries and economies) or provincial level (2 countries and economies) (OECD, 2021[61]). Several of the education recovery strategies analysed for this report also involve local-level decision making.

In the years before the pandemic, some countries and economies with decentralised systems established new agencies or other mechanisms to consolidate professional capacities and financial resources (OECD, 2019[5]). More recently, there has been a greater policy trend towards devolving decision-making capacity to local actors while working to empower them to exercise it effectively. For example, Norway has been implementing a competence development model for schools that fits its decentralised education system. The model was designed to ensure that funding for professional development activities is based on an analysis of local needs and that all local authorities have the capacity and expertise for quality development. An OECD study of the implementation of the model highlights the need to establish clear roles and responsibilities for different actors to ensure accountability, improving the collection of data to monitor the impact of the model, and ensuring that local data are fed back to the national level so that this can inform practices across the system (OECD, 2019[63]).

Portugal’s Project for Autonomy and Curricular Flexibility provides an instructive example of an initiative that promotes school-level autonomy and capacity building for innovation within a more centralised system. The project grants schools autonomy over 0-25% of their total curriculum time to design innovative initiatives based on a set of guiding principles. It also includes mechanisms to support teachers to implement this initiative and to ensure quality and consistency across the country. Evidence about this project found that it had legitimised innovative pedagogies and strengthened collaboration between different stakeholders, although there was significant variation in implementation approaches and teacher buy-in (OECD, 2018[64]; Cosme, 2018[65]). In particular, many teachers felt they lacked the time and space for collaboration. This underlines the importance of balancing autonomy and innovation with mechanisms to ensure consistency and promote knowledge sharing across the system (OECD, 2018[64]).

In the same way, some education systems have given schools greater control over the content and organisation of learning. New Zealand’s curriculum allows schools flexibility to adapt the curriculum for local needs by developing their own courses, for example. This autonomy enables teachers to respond quickly to emerging local issues or global challenges, without having to wait for national-level curriculum design (OECD, 2020[66]).

Governments in the French Community of Belgium֎ and Chile֎ sought to give schools greater flexibility to address learning gaps in the period following school closures in 2020. The French Community of Belgium allocated extra teaching periods to disadvantaged schools to be used for differentiated learning, remediation, or social and psychological support. Within these constraints, schools had the autonomy to devise a remediation strategy that fit their context. The schools’ inspectorate was charged with evaluating the implementation of the strategy to inform future practice in personalised learning and support. Chile’s Curricular Prioritisation package enabled schools to prioritise curriculum objectives over a two-year period to recover lost learning, and to respond to the social and emotional needs of students, based on a comprehensive assessment of their needs (see Table 4.3 in Chapter 4). Chile also adjusted its school supervision arrangements to support schools in implementing the adapted curriculum.

  • Share information about effective local practices, while preparing the ground elsewhere so these can flourish. In the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, policy makers should work to ensure that teachers, leaders, support staff, and governance bodies in education institutions retain a sometimes newly gained capacity to adapt practices to their realities. The sharing of local best practices is also essential, as it can help ensure that these can reach other contexts, and that practices can be aligned across different levels of the system. This evidence also plays a crucial role in supporting the decision making of teachers, school leaders, and other local actors, and helping them overcome the learning curve. However, sharing is not enough. Over the medium term, education institutions need the support, time and space to consider which practices may be most relevant to them, to apply these strategies to their specific context and to discard or absorb them depending on their impact.

  • Monitor and evaluate local initiatives to inform future policy processes. Even policies that are successful, but to a lesser extent, can carry resource or opportunity costs for education institutions. Collecting data about practices adopted across the system and their impact therefore supports national-level decision making and co-ordination, while informing future policy processes (OECD, 2019[63]). This involves sharing data from the institutional level to support vertical and horizontal learning among institutions. In addition, countries and economies that have given schools greater flexibility to address learning gaps need to monitor how they have used this flexibility, and assess the impact of different interventions on student learning. Although establishing reliable evidence about the impact of policies and initiatives can require more time, in the short term, collecting information about the implementation of these measures can also provide valuable learning opportunities.

The demands placed on teachers during institutional closures in 2020 and 2021, and the need to prepare for different possible futures, underline the importance of teacher professionalism and collaboration. While institutional closures will have required teachers and trainers to adapt their practices, some will have experienced particular challenges using digital technologies, possibly for the first time.

Strengthening the resilience of teaching professionals is a short and long term endeavor. It begins with promptly providing them with capacity building opportunities tailored to their needs. In this regard, empowering teachers to build communities of learning where they learn with their students and peers, and confidently adapt to changing circumstances is useful. As well as having a greater impact on teaching practices and student learning, school-embedded forms of professional development, such as peer and self-observation, networking, and coaching, also tend to be more cost-effective, and can be better adapted to the specific context of the institution.

In the medium term, teacher collaboration can foster resilience by promoting the exchange of knowledge and effective practices, and providing a form of social support for those working in challenging circumstances. Evidence from TALIS 2018 shows that, at school level, teachers who take part in deeper forms of professional collaboration, such as team teaching and joint activities across different classes and age groups, are more likely to make use of effective teaching practices (Guerriero, 2020[15]; Viac and Fraser, 2020[74]). In terms of policy aspects that may promote collaboration, evidence from TALIS 2018 also reveals that teachers who feel a greater sense of control over their teaching are more likely to collaborate with other colleagues, and have greater self-efficacy and job satisfaction. Well-designed accountability measures also play an important role in ensuring that teaching professionals take responsibility for students’ learning, and that schools are accountable to the families and communities they serve (Guerriero, 2020[15]; Viac and Fraser, 2020[74]).

Responding to the evolving needs of students in an increasingly complex world implies a change in the role of teachers and school leaders, and may require them to take on new tasks in both the immediate and medium term. Policy makers must therefore ensure that increasing the demands placed on teachers does not have a negative impact on their motivation, commitment, or self-efficacy. This in turn could lead to poor teacher performance, high turnover, and burnout, incurring costs for individual institutions and education systems as a whole. Policy makers and school leaders can also take action to reduce teachers’ workloads, particularly their involvement in non-teaching tasks (Guerriero, 2020[15]; Viac and Fraser, 2020[74]). Teachers’ occupational well-being also depends on system-level factors such as salaries, career progression and job security (Viac and Fraser, 2020[74]).

Both fostering collaboration for professional growth and supporting well-being can be nurtured by strong instructional leadership (Guerriero, 2020[15]). During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was clear that, while national-level guidance was important, local and institutional responsiveness were key, and so institutional leaders were generally encouraged to adapt regulations, recommendations and guidelines to suit their own contexts (OECD, 2020[3]). Many also had responsibility for decisions on distance-learning arrangements (OECD, 2021[1]). Promoting and strengthening instructional leadership is therefore a key element of building resilience in the learning environment over the medium term. This refers to efforts targeting institutional leaders themselves and their leadership teams, but also encompasses an institutional culture of instructional leadership in which teachers are positioned as instructional leaders too.

These short and medium term measures to strengthen the resilience of educators will need to be accompanied by longer term efforts to tackle some of the more restrictive organisational structures of the profession and their working lives. The final section of this chapter offers some related questions for reflection.

See Table 3.4 for a list of policies considered in this analysis; [֎] see Chapter 5 for further information.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a large share of lower-secondary teachers across the OECD reported engaging in impactful professional learning in TALIS 2018, but there was an opportunity to strengthen certain aspects of well-being, collaboration and leadership (OECD, 2020[3]). In recent years, many education systems have implemented policies to address these challenges and strengthen the impact of teachers’ professional learning even further. Previous policy analysis indicates that such efforts can be mutually beneficial: policies that embrace the key components of impactful professional learning – content focus, active learning and collaboration, a school-embedded approach and a sustained duration – can also have a positive impact on well-being, collaboration and leadership capacity (OECD, 2020[3]). This section identifies specific policy efforts in terms of each of these three areas that have, in turn, supported the d teachers’ capacity development.

Ireland֎ has taken measures to strengthen professional collaboration at different levels of the education system. The National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, established in 2012, has played a vital role in strengthening pre-existing teaching and learning networks, promoting collaboration between institutions and across disciplines. It is also supporting HEIs and practitioners in embedding successful practices that emerged in the early stages of the pandemic. Going even further, a review of the National Forum published in 2017 points to a need to reach out beyond existing communities of teaching and learning enthusiasts, especially those who may be reluctant to engage in professional learning (Henard, 2017[75]). France (see Table 2.5 in Chapter 2), the French Community of Belgium and Ireland (see Table 4.1 in Chapter 4) have included space for collaborative planning in teachers’ timetable allocation as part of policy measures in recognition of the extra workload reform imposes on implementation actors.

This kind of peer support was a vital resource for teachers early on in the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence from the Special Survey suggests that the switch to distance learning, and the emergence of teacher-led initiatives, have accelerated the creation or improvement of teacher networks and communities of practice. Close to half of education systems surveyed reported that, for teachers working in general school education, they established or expanded such networks or communities, with a particular focus on remote or hybrid teaching and related Information and Communications Technology (ICT) skills, in 2020. More than half planned to do so in 2021 (OECD/UIS/UNESCO/UNICEF/WB, 2021[4]). Many countries and economies have since sought to build on these collaborative practices to address longer-term term strategic priorities.

For example, during school closures in 2020, educators from regional teams of Portugal’s Autonomy and Curricular Flexibility Project (2017—see Table 3.4) supported other teachers in adapting their teaching and disseminated examples of good practice. Portugal also launched a massive open online course (MOOC) on Learning and School Communities, which used a project-based methodology to support teachers and school psychologists in creating and/or deepening communities of practice (Directorate-General of Education of Portugal, n.d.[76]). In response to requests from teachers, the Australian֎ Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) launched a platform that offers guidance and support for responding to shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the bush fires of 2019-20. This platform includes a hub of evidence-informed resources for teachers and spotlights on themes such as distance learning and the role of leadership in challenging times.

Prior to the pandemic, some governments had taken measures to boost teacher morale and reduce stress. Korea offers sabbatical leave to teachers who have been in the classroom for at least 10 years and express their willingness to engage in further studies or research for self-improvement. Korea has also established teacher support centres at provincial offices of education to offer mental health or legal counselling to those whose teaching activities have been infringed upon.

Furthermore, to support teachers in managing their professional workload, in England (United Kingdom), the Department for Education (DfE) launched a large-scale biennial survey of teacher and school leader workload, and established workload review groups covering both teaching and administrative tasks. Based on this work, the review groups published a targeted set of recommendations for different actors in the education system. These encourage schools to focus on the quality, rather than the quantity, of student feedback, and to consider oral feedback as an alternative to detailed written feedback. They also recommend that schools identify blocks of time to allow for proper collaborative planning and professional discussion focused on student learning outcomes. To reduce the time spent on data collection, schools can identify sources of data that can be used for multiple audiences, rather than duplicating data (Department for Education of the United Kingdom, 2020[77]). The DfE has also published a Workload Reduction Toolkit for schools (See Box 2.4). Similarly, the Slovak Republic established a working group to target excessive administrative workload, which resulted in many administrative processes being eliminated, simplified, or automated.

At school level, in 2019, the Education Policy Outlook identified school leadership as an area receiving less attention as a policy priority, compared to others analysed (OECD, 2019[5]). However, some initiatives emerge that could be useful for other education systems’ consideration.

One of the key strengths of Slovenia’s middle leadership programme, which is managed by the National School for Leadership in Education, is that it promotes the sharing of good practice by bringing together participants from different types of schools and kindergartens. Participants take part in structured school visits followed by reflections, as well as experimental and practical training, such as roleplaying and coaching. A key challenge identified in programme evaluations was the need to develop incentives for participation and performance in these activities (OECD, 2019[5]). Slovenia also runs a two-year programme where teachers and leaders from networks of schools work together on common areas of improvement. Recent evidence from the programme’s implementation highlights the key role school leaders play as drivers of these networks.

Focus areas for school leader support in 2021/22 reflect priorities highlighted in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as communication with parents, and holistic approaches to well-being. In the summer of 2020, Turkey֎ launched an online learning programme that aims to give school leaders the administrative, technical, and communication skills they will need to lead learning in the context of uncertainty. This is supported by efforts to reduce the administrative workload of school leaders to allow them to focus on educational activities.

  • Balance change and innovation in teaching with time and workloads. Adjusting positively to the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthening the resilience of learners and education systems will require teaching professionals to take on new roles and develop new knowledge and skills. As the experience of different OECD countries and economies suggests, bringing about change and innovation in education has implications for teachers’ time and workloads. While they undoubtedly benefit from participating in group decision making and other collaborative practices, these activities also involve costs for busy teachers. Over the short and medium term, governments can explore different ways to resolve this apparent tension, such as reducing the time teachers spend in the classroom and giving them protected time to work collaboratively (Guerriero, 2019[80]), providing incentives for participation in peer learning activities, allocating additional human or financial resources, or reducing demands in other areas, such as administrative workload or high-stakes accountability procedures.

  • Support leaders as catalysts of change in education institutions. Institutional leadership plays a central role in fostering resilient responses to change, crises or shocks. At school level, school leaders and their teams are the first implementers of national policies. They make sense of changing priorities, are responsible for operationalising these in the context of their institution, and communicate with staff and families to help develop a new shared understanding of behaviours or goals. Typically, they are also the key liaison with the broader network of public services supporting education institutions and are responsible for monitoring and accountability processes taking place at the more systemic level. Previous analyses carried out by the Education Policy Outlook point to a need to strengthen instructional leadership, which has received less attention in the past, in addition to administrative leadership. At the same time, the role of education leaders as implementers of policy needs to be acknowledged, encouraged, and supported, since they play a key role in managing change within education institutions.

As discussed in other sections of this report, the switch to distance learning during the institutional closures of 2020 has tested the capacity of educational institutions to provide digital learning. Building on the digital innovations that took place during the lockdown involves reinforcing digital resources and developing the digital skills of learners and educators (OECD, 2020[87]).

The recent crisis has drawn attention to the digital divides that existed before the pandemic. The first of these relates to inequalities in access to digital technologies (Burns and Gottschalk, 2019[13]). According to data from PISA 2018, students in advantaged schools are 15% more likely to have access to a computer they can use for schoolwork than students in disadvantaged schools (OECD, 2020[88]). Advantaged schools are also 12% more likely to have sufficient Internet bandwidth than advantaged schools. While these inequalities often relate to socio-economic disadvantage, there are also inequalities in digital infrastructure between urban and rural areas (Burns and Gottschalk, 2019[13]).

However, beyond bridging gaps in access, education systems also need to work hard on developing education actors’ digital ability and application of digital tools in everyday teaching contexts. Teaching professionals need the knowledge and skills to use these technologies effectively (Education Endowment Foundation, 2020[89]; Burns and Gottschalk, 2019[13]; Hargittai, 2002[90]; Dijk, 2017[91]). TALIS 2018 shows that many teachers felt unprepared for using ICT in their teaching before the pandemic; at that time, only 53% of teachers across OECD countries and economies reported having received training in this area as part of their formal training, and only 43% felt well-prepared upon completing such training (OECD, 2019[92]). Building digital capacity among teachers will gain importance as digital learning becomes the new normal.

Over the medium term, efforts to strengthen digital ability and the application of digital tools need to facilitate broader, richer and more holistic education processes; the digital dimension is only a means and the learners and learning processes should remain at the centre, along with the teachers.

See Table 3.5 for a list of policies considered in this analysis; [֎] see Chapter 5 for further information.

Some countries and economies have implemented broad strategies aimed at developing a wide range of skills in students. Others have developed more targeted strategies that focus on specific digital competences, or particular sections of the population (European Commission, 2016[93]; Burns and Gottschalk, 2019[13]). Data from the European Commission suggest that while developments in digital and online learning have brought about change in the curriculum and the use of educational materials, there is still progress to be made in embedding ICT in teacher professional development (European Commission, 2016[93]). Once again, school-based and collaborative forms of professional development play an important role in ensuring teachers integrate digital technologies in ways that support subject-specific pedagogical goals at the same time as meeting the individual needs of students (European Commission, 2016[93]; OECD, 2020[25]).

Several countries and economies had taken measures to build capacity for digital learning in the years before the pandemic, leaving them better placed for the transition to distance learning in 2020. For example, Finland’s tutor teacher network (2016) provides training, guidance, and peer support in digital pedagogy, and seeks to promote pedagogical innovation. Previously, education providers had identified the regional training events organised for tutor teachers as an important success factor for these networks, since they promoted regional networking between the tutor teachers (Finnish National Agency for Education, 2020[94]). Estonia has also developed tools to measure the digital competences of teachers and students, and the digital readiness of schools. Its Digital Mirror (2018) enables schools to assess their digital maturity and develop an improvement plan. Furthermore, Turkey֎ has developed online training modules to support teachers in designing and managing distance learning. This policy effort follows previous evidence on the need to support teachers in enhancing their teaching practice using digital technologies, rather than simply digitising their practices (Coruk and Tutkun, 2018[95]).

As part of its digital strategy for higher education (2013), France֎ launched two digital platforms that offer distance-learning opportunities and digital resources to higher education professionals, as well as students and the wider public. The France Université Numérique platform brings together some 547 MOOCs designed by educators and HEIs. Sup-numérique contains over 30 000 digital learning resources aimed at those who teach and learn online. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, France has announced funding for 35 HEI-led projects to develop digital learning resources and invested in additional training and support for educators (see Table 2.4 in Chapter 2; see also Chapter 5).

Many countries and economies have implemented new digital education strategies, or revised existing strategies in light of lessons learnt in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Countries and economies such as Germany֎ and Spain֎ have sought to address the digital inequalities revealed by the pandemic by providing disadvantaged students with digital devices. Another key priority for several countries and economies is to strengthen or institutionalise digital learning resources that were developed during institutional closures. Austria֎ is in the process of aligning the resources on its Eduthek learning platform with the school curriculum. To help bridge gaps in digital ability and application, Spain is developing digital learning tools that use adaptive technologies to deliver personalised content and assessment tasks to students, and that allow teachers to monitor student progress. Through the National Institute of Education and Training Technologies, Spain published a National Framework of Digital Competence for Teachers in 2020 and is promoting specific training courses in which teachers can exchange with peers from their country and abroad, creating an important network for their professional development (National Institute of Education and Training Technologies, n.d.[96]).

Balancing central guidance and teacher agency to help teachers navigate the resources available online and establish sustainable online communities is crucial. Hybrid and blended learning environments can be more beneficial for teachers than fully virtual ones since they can draw on impactful practices such as coaching and mentoring (OECD, 2021[1]). Skilled moderators for online communities and interventions to increase course completion rates can make virtual professional learning activities more effective (OECD, 2021[1])).

Korea֎ has implemented several of these measures since the outbreak of the pandemic. During school closures in 2020, Korea established online teacher communities such as the Knowledge Spring (Jisik Saemteo). Through the Knowledge Spring, teachers can voluntarily upload open training courses or take the courses uploaded by colleagues to strengthen their digital capabilities. The flexibility provided by the platform provides teachers with the opportunity to drive their own development without being restricted by time and space. In 2020, Korea also established 10 Future Education Centres in teacher training institutions to embed the skills pre-service teachers will need to provide digital and remote education. Korea plans to expand the number of Future Education Centres to 28 by the end of 2021.

Similarly, a group of teachers and education experts in England (United Kingdom) established Oak National Academy in April 2020, with funding support from the DfE. Oak is an online classroom with over 10 000 free video lessons and resources for students and teachers in ECEC to secondary education. The content was produced by teachers and curriculum partners across the country, and was available to teachers and parents throughout the pandemic to support remote education and education recovery (Oak Academy, n.d.[98]; Department for Education of the United Kingdom, 2021[99]). Costa Rica֎ has focused on ensuring digital resources are accessible to teachers and learners with disabilities. This was based on an evaluation of the resources launched in the early stages of the pandemic, which highlighted accessibility as a key concern. Costa Rica has since launched a series of professional development activities for teachers, including training for visually impaired teachers on the use of video and audio-conferencing tools.

  • Identify the different levels of digital ability and application of digital skills among education staff, and develop them strategically, according to national and institutional goals. Although many teachers will have gained more experience with teaching in digital settings in the context of the pandemic, levels of ability and application remain unequal. To complement immediate professional development efforts, over the medium term, this requires a strategic approach to developing educators’ digital competences, allowing teachers to drive their own development based on their previous experience and needs. The four key policy components of effective professional learning previously identified in this report provide a useful basis for developing these competencies. In particular, approaches that allow teachers to experiment with different digital tools and approaches, and to collaborate with and learn from their peers, will enable them to integrate digital technologies as a more natural support to their pedagogical practice (European Commission, 2016[93]).

This chapter has presented practical and actionable pointers that can help policy makers build more resilient and responsive broader learning environments in the short and medium term. Looking beyond that, education policy makers will also need to think more strategically – and perhaps more radically – about the long-term measures that can ensure resilient and responsive broader learning environments are a standard feature of future education systems.

The evidence presented in this chapter points to two priority areas that can support this. Firstly, the role of education institutions within a community needs to be reimagined by stakeholders across the system. Isolation in a world of complex learning systems will seriously limit potential (Schleicher, 2018[105]); a responsive and resilient education system has learning environments at the heart of dynamic and collaborative local education networks. Secondly, the teaching profession must be truly recognised as such. Despite a renewed focus on the importance of teacher professionalism from the turn of the 21st century, the extent to which the teaching profession has ownership of a strong and coherent body of professional knowledge and expertise that is widely recognised and trusted varies considerably across countries (Schleicher, 2018[105]).

With these priorities and the pointers for resilience covered in this chapter in mind, education policy makers thinking about the longer term should engage in imaginative and constructive reflection around the following questions:

  • What if quality and equitable education delivery became the mutual endeavour and shared venture of educators, parents, community actors and employers?

  • What if education institutions were supported to facilitate symbiotic processes among public services for learners, as a foundation for social prosperity in every local community?

  • What if educational improvement and innovation became truly bottom-up, with local vision effectively nurtured and supported by autonomy, capacity and accountability?

  • What if governments could translate an increased awareness of teachers as valued professionals into boldly reimagined structures and processes that empower them as trusted professionals, transform rules into guidelines and good practice, and ultimately, good practice into culture?

  • What if every teacher became as naturally adept at teaching and developing best practices for the digital classroom as for the traditional classroom?

Such reflection is the first step in building a bridge between the short- and medium-term action explored through this framework, and the larger-scale reimagining required to ensure that, in the long-term, resilient broader learning environments become the new status quo.


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