The Impact of COVID-19 on Education in the Midlands

Thu, 10 Mar 2022 19:00 in Discussion Forums

Venue: Online
Date: Thursday, 10 March 2022
Time: 19:00-20:00

  • Libbs Packer, Peace Education Trainer, Peacemakers
  • Prof Colin Diamond CBE, Prof of Education Leadership, University of Birmingham
  • Dr Nicola Pensiero, Lecturer in Quantitative Education and Social Science Leadership, Effective Education & Policy (LEEP) Research Centre School of Education, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Southampton
  • Cheriesse Bema-Kwakye, Research Fellow and Project Co-ordinator, Dialogue Society


As a result of numerous COVID-19 lockdowns and repeated social isolations, the education that has been received by students all across the UK, whether that is primary, secondary or higher education, has arguably been hit and has revealed it carries various holes. Likewise, to other institutions within society, including the economy and the state, the education sector had to bounce back from the unforeseen impacts of the virus which shook what was known as a relatively stable system. The main impact is school closures which cut down considerable amounts of term time and therefore time spent in lessons. Within the UK, a staggering 1.53 billion learners were out of school, as well as there being 184 country-wide school closures.

Yet, what this crisis revealed is the inequalities that are present within the UK which had been shown through material deprivation. As learning moved to its online, remote form, it revealed that around 700,000 children do not have a computer, laptop, or tablet with which to access online learning. Therefore, the poorest individuals in society are likely to be the most disadvantaged. It is also challenging for teachers to gauge the effectiveness of their online teaching and whether students are truly engaging with their lessons. In addition to the fact that COVID-19 has caused the structure of education to shift with most students requiring a recovery curriculum that will focus on the learning that they had missed, due to the multiple school closures which occurred. It is important to note how the amount of schooling missed was not evenly distributed across the country. In the West Midlands, on average, pupils missed the most amount of school, in comparison to those in the South West of England who missed the least.

The impacts of COVID-19 on students' mental health can also not be overlooked, as the mental health and wellbeing of many learners across the country would have been impacted by the unpredictable nature of the crisis and the new form in which education has taken on. Survey data from YoungMinds in June 2020, revealed that 74% of teachers agreed that school closures had a negative impact on the mental health of young people. The effect that the pandemic had on teachers is vital to consider as they also had to accustom themselves to an entirely new way of delivering their teaching. The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the flexibility of education and teaching and how it is paramount to quickly adapt to society's quick changes. This panel discussion will explore the ways in which COVID-19 has impacted education within the Midlands, in addition to how students, teachers, and the education system can recover post-lockdown.


Libbs Packer has worked with children of all ages in a variety of settings, as an adult ESOL teacher and currently works with asylum seekers and refugees at a meet and greet project. Knowing that she wanted to work with children of different ages in less formal settings than just the classroom, Libbs was pleased to learn about the Peacemakers' work in schools and join the team.

Colin Diamond has worked in the field of educational leadership for many years in England. He has been a Head of Faculty, Associate Headteacher, Local Education Authority Adviser, Assistant Director and Director of Education/Children's Services.

Professor Diamond led improvements in two local authorities taking them from government intervention to strong performance. He has also worked for the Department for Education in England as Head of Education Advisers for the Academies and Free Schools Programme. He was Deputy Education Commissioner in Birmingham and he was also an OfSTED inspector. He was an associate lecturer at three universities before taking the chair of education leadership at Birmingham.

Nicola Pensiero is a lecturer in quantitative education and social science at Southampton University School of Education. Previously he worked at UCL Institute of Education, where he joined in 2013 after completing his Ph.D. at the European University Institute. He is an interdisciplinary researcher with a good record of leading externally funded education research projects. His expertise lies in the use of analytical and choice-based approaches in studying social phenomena such as education programme effectiveness, comparative analysis of the effectiveness of education system characteristics, inequality in educational attainment, school segregation, and income inequality.

Cheriesse Bema-Kwakye is a Research Fellow and Project Co-ordinator at the Dialogue Society. Prior to joining the Dialogue Society, she held roles in fundraising, marketing, and campaigning in charity organisations that operate both internationally and locally.

Cheriesse holds a BA (Hons) in Human Geography and Environment from the University of York and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Development Studies from the Department of International Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. As a Human Geographer and sustainable development professional, she has strong interests in decolonial political geographies, critical geopolitics, feminist political ecologies, and environmental peace-building.