March 4, 2021

NAB Independent School Survey 2020

While last year was one of the most challenging for schools in Australia’s history, schools will adapt post-COVID.

As thousands of young Australians enjoy being back in classrooms during the first term of 2021, new research from NAB has revealed that while last year was one of the most challenging for schools in Australia’s history, most teachers do not want school life to return to exactly as it was before COVID-19.

The 2020 NAB Independent Schools Survey found many teachers believe that post-COVID, there has been a sharper focus on what really matters, a greater appreciation of what they did and more parental insight into their children’s classroom activities.

NAB Economics recently surveyed 70 teachers from independent schools across the country who shared their views on important topics such as student anxiety, engagement during remote learning, adaptations to new ways of learning and modifications to teaching and the challenges now and in the future.

Dean Pearson, NAB Head of Behavioural & Industry Economics, said COVID-19 required teachers and students to rapidly adjust to new ways of learning, with concerns around the impacts on educational outcomes from reduced engagement, as well as the effects on mental health and social development.

Concerning numbers of school students are still exhibiting high levels of anxiety (one in four in Years 7-10 & one in three in Years 11-12) while one in two teachers also experienced heightened anxiety during COVID.

“Primary school-age girls appear to have struggled more during COVID-19 than boys, but girls look to have coped better than boys at the secondary level. COVID-19 also impacted student engagement, particularly among boys,” Mr Pearson said.

“Students who struggled most during/post COVID include those already grappling with motivation, those with poor access to (or reluctant to use) new technology, extroverts/more social students, those lacking family support and those spending too much time on social media/games.”

But there have also been positives, with many students having mastered a greater range of digital skills and more opportunities to learn differently.

Beth Blackwood, CEO of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools Australia (AHISA), said COVID-19 has seen a greater appreciation of the vital role schools play in society.

“Most of our teachers worked longer hours and devoted more time to student wellbeing. But they also report having a better understanding of different and new ways of teaching which should benefit all students going forward”.

Get all insights in our  NAB Independent Schools Survey 2020.