Education in the time of coronavirus: challenges and seeds of hope

Big Change employees take a photo together on stage alongside teachers at an event
Image from Big Change
Holly Branson
Holly Branson's writing
Published on 1 April 2020

As the global coronavirus pandemic opens up an entirely new set of challenges for the education system, we’re seeing just how important it is to build a more adaptable and inclusive approach to learning. Freddie and I have been helping Etta and Artie with their home schooling and it’s been an interesting experience to say the least! Like millions of others, we’re attempting to take on the role of art teacher, scientist, mathematician, spelling expert, hand-washing police and loving parents – all while trying to get our day jobs done! We’ve never appreciated our teachers and educators more.

Freddie Andrewes carrying his twin children Etta and Artie Branson
Image from

Our mission at Big Change to re-imagine education has also never seemed more relevant. We’ve been talking to our Big Change project partners and our networks about the new challenges they’re facing as we adapt to new realities. There are particular concerns about how the crisis is widening gaps in equality - with many students having limited access to tech devices, and imbalances in how schools are equipped for remote learning. Big Change partners the Big Education Conversation is working hard with Whole Education to rectify this situation but they need your help - please sign the form below to support them in their efforts.

We can also see many opportunities and seeds of hope sprouting as the world takes a moment to rethink education. We’re also seeing a positive reaction from teachers, educators and the wider community. The learning ecosystem is also quickly expanding as millions of parents, caregivers and well-known faces step up to support learning and in the process are learning a lot themselves..

The education projects we support at Big Change are all working tirelessly to support young people and we’re so proud of how they’re responding to this crisis. Here are just a few examples of how our project partners are rising to the new learning challenges. Hopefully you pick up some great tools and resources from the list too!

Adam Slama
Adam Slama

EasyPeasy home learning

From now until May 31st, the EasyPeasy home learning app is completely free. Jen and her team have made the online platform as accessible as possible to support parents and early years educators during this time. They have also shared a wonderful blog with interesting ways to create whole new worlds for children while we’re stuck inside. It certainly gave me a lot of ideas for when the kids go stir-crazy.

Making education equal

The Big Education Conversation and Whole Education are collaboratively reaching out to supermarkets and tech companies to provide food vouchers, tech devices and internet dongles for young people in need. This is such an important step in making sure all young people, regardless of their background and situation at home, have equal access to education. Sign this Google Form to support their efforts to provide equal access to tech devices.

Simple safety measures

Big Education have launched a range of free resources to support the health and safety of students and staff at schools that remain open for students with parents who are key workers. It’s a useful resource that we can all use to stay safe and you can download it on Twitter.

Making remote learning better

ImpactEd are working with their school partners to support and monitor student wellbeing and engagement from outside school. They are collecting this feedback and using it to evaluate the remote learning plans that are currently in place. The team is also researching the impact that school closures is set to have for both academic and non-academic outcomes – with a particular focus on the most vulnerable students. If you would like to learn more or help, reach out to ImpactEd today.

Image from Big Change
Image from Big Change

It’s wonderful to see how our project partners are stepping up in these difficult times. I look forward to seeing how these seeds of hope blossom and share more positive news in the future. I’ll also let you know how my home-teacher debut pans out!

As we say at Big Change: “Education is everyone’s business” and these words have never been more apt.

Keep looking out for each other and we’ll get through this together.