NIK about organisation of teachers’ work in state schools – part 2 (remote education)

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government limited the functioning of educational institutions from 12 March 2020. For the first two days, teachers did not hold any classes but prepared themselves for online work. In case of primary schools, they cared about the children whose parents could not take care of them.

The questionnaire made by NIK in over 5 thousand schools showed that at the end of March 2020, about 47% of teachers completed various courses and training programmes on remote teaching. Half a year later it was as much as 81%.

Equipment

NIK checked if schools were prepared for remote work in technical terms. Even before the pandemic, schools were provided with essential equipment as part of domestic and EU programmes. Nevertheless, as much as ¼ of 5 thousand school principals covered by the questionnaire claimed that their schools’ equipment for remote education is average or poor.

Two of NIK audits confirmed that schools were connected to the Nationwide Education Network and had computer equipment at its disposal which could be provided to teachers and students. However, nearly 25.5 thousand teachers covered by NIK’s questionnaire declared that in the remote education period they used only their private equipment and internet access, and only 7% used exclusively the school’s resources.

The Ministry of National Education issued an ordinance, under which the purchase of hardware or software helpful in online classes could be subsidised. The maximum subsidy amount did not exceed PLN 500.

Forms of classes

When asked how they handled remote teaching, most teachers mentioned online classes. As much as 66% of them conducted classes only in this way, for 13% it was the majority of classes and 2% of teachers did not hold any online classes.

Educational programmes on TV were supposed to support teachers in the preliminary phase of remote education. The programmes were made by the Polish Television (TVP S.A.) based on the curriculum provided by the Ministry and subject proposals prepared in cooperation with chief education officers.

The educational programmes were supposed to be approved by the Ministry employees one day before the broadcast. The Ministry of Education was also entitled to verify if the “TV lessons” complied with the core curriculum. The NIK audit revealed, though, that the Ministry did not take advantage of its rights and checked the programmes only after the broadcast of the whole series of programmes.

Meanwhile, 21 complaints were filed to the Ministry after the programmes were broadcast, They dealt with the value of educational classes presented as part of the project “School with TVP” and included seven parliamentary interpellations and two parliamentary queries. It was pointed out that teachers lacked presentation skills and made some content-related mistakes. The Ministry responded without referring in any way to objections as to the merits. It only provided general information on the programme assumptions or the broadcast time and band.

NIK has no doubt that the production of educational programmes in cooperation with the Polish Television considerably supports teachers’ work, especially in the time of pandemic. Also the teachers’ right to select text books and teaching methods is beyond discussion. However, according to NIK, the Minister of National Education did not make sure that the educational programmes approved by the Ministry were prepared by the Polish Television in a fully professional manner, both in terms of their educational and image value.

Problems with online education

Difficulties in remote learning were revealed as early as in March 2020. The ones reported by principals of the audited schools, particularly in the initial phase of online education, were related to the lack of students and teachers’ access to good internet connection, hardware and software. Besides, there were no training programmes on online classes, which made it hard for teachers to choose suitable working methods.

On the other hand, students could not properly use communicators, e-mail, platforms and other programmes. As a consequence, they could not send back their work or read assignments sent by the teacher. There were also no guidelines on communication between the school and students.

Chief education officers asked the Ministry of National Education to provide additional support for students of the final year of primary and secondary schools due to exams awaiting them.  

As for teachers, objective evaluation of students’ knowledge and skills was the biggest problem for them. Over 70% of NIK questionnaire participants pointed to that difficulty. More than half of teachers indicated the lack of students’ access to adequate computer equipment. For nearly one third of teachers, too big number of students was an issue and 30% of teachers found it difficult to verify the actual attendance during classes. According to the majority of teachers, laptops with internet access (66%) and internet programmes (53%) would be a big help in online classes.

In all the audited schools during the pandemic, classes lasted from 30 to 45 minutes (in an extreme case it was 25 minutes). However, not everywhere the planned teaching load and the core curriculum were fully covered. Despite those problems, in school year 2020/21 (1st half) in 95% of schools audited by chief education officers the core curriculum was completed.

The NIK auditors also found that in 15 of 20 audited schools, the average attendance in the remote learning period was higher than in the same period in school year 2019/2020. In other cases it was comparable. The percentage of teachers who were on sick leaves, in quarantine or in isolation due to COVID-19 reached 22%. Part of them agreed to conduct online classes. There were no cases where teachers retired or received compensatory benefits due to premature retirement.

NIK’s recommendations:

to the Minister of Education and Science to:

  • make a comprehensive analysis and evaluation of barriers and opportunities related to remote learning and their use in the organisation process and improvement of the education and upbringing process;

to school principals:

  • take measures, in cooperation with the school management authority, to provide organisational conditions for teachers’ work, also on a remote basis, among others by ensuring appropriate work organisation, essential work equipment as well as health and safety at work;

to school management authorities:

  • provide support, financial in particular, to school principals to provide organisational conditions for teachers’ work, including remote teaching.

 

Article informations

Date of creation:
06 September 2021 12:05
Date of publication:
06 September 2021 12:05
Published by:
Marta Połczyńska
Date of last change:
15 September 2021 09:25
Last modified by:
Marta Połczyńska

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