This has been an extraordinary year in education the world over 1.6 billion learners have faced disruption as the pandemic has forced schools to close and lessons, where possible, have been provided remotely, supported by whatever technology has – or has not – been available. Education policymakers, teachers, pupils and parents have faced challenges on a scale never seen before. Throughout, we have focused our research to lead thinking on how best to continue – and restart – education through the crisis. Around the world, our researchers and consultants have fed into leading global institutions to build up the global knowledge base on remote pedagogy and education in emergencies.
We have harnessed the learning from our research to make a real difference in people’s lives. In Kenya, vulnerable girls have continued learning as our teams adapted to distribute essential education materials to them. In England, our Careers teams have helped thousands of people impacted by the pandemic. In Lebanon, we have helped teachers of Syrian refugee children to improve their skills, despite political upheaval and the pandemic.
This year, the importance of technology in education – and of low/no-tech ‘safety nets’ – has been clearer than ever. We have seen this in our research and our delivery. In our UK independent schools, we ensured all children were equipped with laptops to enable creative remote learning. In Rwanda, we helped develop radio broadcast lessons supporting millions of children.
Over the last year, we have reached 2.4 million learners and 96,500 education practitioners worldwide – 100,000 more learners and 500 more educators than in 2018/19.
We reached over 80,000 young people in the UK through our world-class careers and enrichment services. We also launched and piloted exciting new programmes: in Ethiopia, we are supporting over 400 school leaders; in the UK, our ASK apprenticeship careers programme completed its pilot. In Jordan, we are working with UNICEF and the Jordanian Ministry of Education to deliver on blended learning.
In a year which has so vividly exposed inequalities, we believe our programmes are our most powerful tool to impact disadvantaged groups. Internally too, we have increased our focus on inclusion and diversity. A new global task force is working to strengthen inclusion in everything we do.
I am incredibly proud of what our people have achieved in such an exceptional year. My heartfelt thanks to them for their expertise, enthusiasm and dedication. My thanks too to our excellent partners and stakeholders for their support. As the world emerges from the pandemic and looks to the still wider challenges of this century, education will be more important than ever. At Education Development Trust, we will continue to champion our mission – improving education to transform lives around the world.
Ilse Howling | Chair of Trustees, Education Development Trust
- 80,500 young people benefited from our careers and enrichment services in school and community settings. We also supported 1,750 educators through our careers programmes, and over 14,000 individuals during Covid-19 through the National Careers Service.
- Across all of our programmes in UK schools (including careers), we supported over 14,000 education professionals.
- Throughout the pandemic, we have developed an extensive selection of resources to assist remote and blended learning, delivered remote professional development for education practitioners, and facilitated virtual communities of practice for schools.
- We have been accelerating system-level reforms, including upskilling over 500 system leaders, more than 2,600 school leaders and nearly 34,000 primary teachers.
- We rapidly developed 38 radio lessons and established remote teacher learning communities to support learning continuity through the Covid-19 lockdown.
- We helped to improve learning outcomes and transitions for 52,000 girls in arid and semi-arid lands and urban slums.
- We established remote teacher learning communities and developed a new model for education continuity, which has kept 91% of the vulnerable girls we work with in rural areas learning during the pandemic.
- We launched a new programme, which will lead to improvements for 1.2 million learners.
- The FCDO Annual Review for Ethiopia scored an ‘A’, which our feedback from FCDO credits largely to the success of our TARGET programme team.
- During the Covid-19 crisis, we provided virtual coaching for education professionals and developed specialist training content for school leaders to support schools reopening.
- We provided support for online learning for the Ministry of Education’s ‘Education During Emergency Plan’.
- We were commissioned to help launch an innovative blended learning programme, to help over 1 million learners to sustain and accelerate their learning while adjusting to blended learning, and help over 80,000 educators to develop skills in online teaching.
Education Development Trust is an international not-for-profit organisation working to improve education outcomes around the world. We combine global research and our longstanding expertise with regional knowledge to inform education policy and practice and deliver programmes around the world. Through our work and expertise – which spans from early years education right through to post-school careers – we seek to strengthen education systems, transform teaching and learning, ensure effective transitions into work, and contribute to global responses to key education challenges.
We have been improving education around the world for over 50 years, and everything we do is underpinned by our values of excellence, integrity, accountability and collaboration. We develop evidence-informed solutions – drawing on our continually refreshed body of research – to bring about real change, raise educational standards, and support global efforts to address learning crises and reduce inequalities of opportunity.
We improve national learning outcomes by informing education policy and putting our knowledge into action in our programmes and consultancy work. We work in varied contexts all over the world, in education systems as diverse as those in Brunei, Kenya, England, Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates. This often includes challenging environments, hard-to-reach localities and marginalised communities where the need is greatest – not least in the context of the current global pandemic. In all the locations we work in, we use evidence-based methods to raise education standards, deliver innovation in schools, help teachers to improve their teaching quality, empower educators to effect sustainable and cost-effective transformation in their schools, and reduce disparities in educational outcomes.
We are a trusted partner of governments, academics and multilateral agencies across the globe. Our work helps to drive global understanding of education solutions, and we support global dialogues among international policymakers on education system improvement.
Our expert knowledge, programme design and implementation expertise are also deployed in delivering Ofsted-rated outstanding careers services in England, and in our family of independent schools.
To achieve all this, we draw on our programme of public domain research that highlights what works in education reform and we invest in research and development to create globally leading and innovative methodologies, helping to make government ambitions for better education systems a reality.
We also put our knowledge of what makes excellent education into practice in our ownership and management of our independent schools – Danesfield Manor School, Oakfield Preparatory School and St Andrew’s School in the UK and International School of Cape Town in South Africa. While all very different in character, with unique identities as befit their strong roles in their local communities, all of our schools share deep-rooted common values and principles.
We are proud that the work we do has a tangible, positive impact across the world. Our work means that:
- marginalised girls in Kenya have been able to continue learning throughout the Covid-19 pandemic;
- Syrian refugees are receiving an education in informal settlements;
- new teachers in England are receiving specialist professional development to improve their performance and retention rates;
- primary school children in Rwanda are improving their numeracy and literacy outcomes;
- adults in England are receiving specialist careers advice;
- teachers in London are supported in their learning with and about technology; and
- schools in England are working together and helping each other on their school improvement journeys.
Our Covid-19 response
The global coronavirus pandemic disrupted education systems on an unprecedented scale, affecting almost 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries. School closures, remote learning, and reopening plans have created a host of new challenges for children and young people, as well as their teachers, parents and education leaders across the globe, while also exacerbating existing inequalities. National lockdowns and restrictions have also created challenges for our programme delivery and teams and the schools we own and run. However, in the face of such challenges, our people have demonstrated exceptional adaptability and responsiveness which have enabled us to continue to deliver our services, and to help ensure education continuity for children around the world.
We have made significant contributions to the global evidence base on remote learning and education in emergencies.
Through our rapid turnaround research, we have generated new lessons on urgent priorities, highlighting ‘what works’ in remote and blended learning, education in emergencies, and schools reopening from global responses to Covid-19. As part of our responsive research, we have drawn on the latest international learnings and synthesised existing evidence to produce eight rapid-turnaround reports for the EdTech Hub, a new global non-profit research partnership, as well as commissioned research for the K4D Helpdesk. We have also pivoted some strands of our research within our largest programmes to meet the need for immediate evidence in response to the pandemic: for example, in Rwanda and Ethiopia, we conducted rapid research to understand levels of technological capability and access for the purposes of remote learning.
We have adapted many aspects of our programme delivery due to Covid-19, working with local stakeholders to ensure we can continue to deliver key education services.
In doing so, we have sought to make use of the most appropriate available technologies – and no-tech safety nets – to ensure continued education provision for the most vulnerable.
In Rwanda, our Building Learning Foundations (BLF) programme has supported learning continuity for millions of Primary 1 to Primary 3 pupils by developing 38 high-quality radio lessons, in partnership with the Rwanda Education Board and UNICEF.
In Kenya, we redesigned the role of Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) to support learning during school closures, including by delivering paper-based study materials to the most vulnerable girls and facilitating feedback on their work.
In the UAE, we formed a new partnership with ADEK in Abu Dhabi for quality assuring and evaluating remote learning in 223 schools. In this fast-paced project, we mobilised and orientated a team of 24 school evaluators and QA reviewers in just one week.
We have created new modes of professional development and coaching for teachers and education leaders.
Throughout the pandemic, we have adapted our professional development (PD) offerings to create new models of remote provision, enabling education practitioners to continue to develop their skills despite national lockdowns and restrictions.
In our BLF programme in Rwanda and TARGET programme in Ethiopia, while we have provided virtual coaching for education professionals by phone and using social media, while we have also established virtual teacher learning communities in Kenya, the UK and Lebanon. Our work with refugee teachers in Lebanon, in which we have developed a remote community of practice, is to be included in an UNESCO database as a case study on the use of technology to support learning among refugee populations.
CASE STUDY: Radio lessons in Rwanda
When schools in Rwanda closed in March, the Building Learning Foundations (BLF) team responded to the call of the Rwanda Education Board to support teaching and learning throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, using its knowledge and expertise to develop scripts for radio broadcast lessons, which reached over 2.6 million learners. Expert BLF content developers produced 38 scripts for English and mathematics lessons for pupils in Primary 1 to Primary 3 grades, in collaboration with UNICEF and the Rwanda Education Board. The lessons, which were aligned with the national curriculum, aired on five radio stations every week, enabling children to learn at home in a context where few households could access high-tech learning solutions.
“I usually follow the radio every morning and learn together with my children… Radio learning has been very important during this lockdown and has kept the children busy with homework.” – Charlotte, a mother of three in the Kicukiro District, Rwanda
Improving school systems at scale
From direct-to-school school improvement initiatives to the shaping of government educational policy on a national scale, we effect change within school systems. We deliver transformational programmes and advise national, regional and local governments on education reform that leaves a lasting legacy of positive change. We have continued to effect change at scale even amid the disruption of the past year – and are proud of the progress we have made since 2018/19.
We are driving improvements in teacher and leader professional development.
Teaching quality is the single biggest driver of student learning outcomes within a school environment. It is therefore hugely important to ensure that teacher professional development (PD) programmes are effective, and this is a core part of our work around the world. What’s more, we believe teacher PD will be an area of increasing importance – with even greater demand – in the context of Covid-19 and its aftermath. We have made an outstanding impact in this area, reaching almost 100,000 practitioners across our programmes.
Our work through the Building Learning Foundations (BLF) programme has dramatically increased the number of teachers and headteachers meeting competency benchmarks in key areas.
In mathematics, only 22% of teachers in Rwanda were meeting these benchmarks in 2018 – and in English, just 12% were meeting this standard. By 2019, however, this had increased to 89% in mathematics and 63% in English.
Moreover, we have enabled more headteachers to improve their leadership skills. In February 2018, just 41% of headteachers were able to demonstrate competency in four key leadership standards. Following our intervention, by March 2020, 66% of headteachers were able to demonstrate these skills.
We have also built capacity in collaborative learning by increasing attendance of professional learning communities – 94% of Rwandan headteachers attended monthly professional learning communities as of February 2020, compared to 49% in June 2018.
We have been developing teachers’ coaching skills to improve teaching and learning at scale.
The latest data, published in 2019/20, shows how our collaboration with Brunei’s Ministry of Education – to design and deliver their flagship Literacy and Numeracy Coaching Programme (LNCP) – raised student achievement in literacy and numeracy across the country. Following this intervention, 172 local coaches are operative at ‘accredited’ level, 168 at ‘specialist’ level and 158 at ‘expert level’ – exceeding a target of 120 coaches.
Girls’ education and gender equality
Girls’ education remains one of the challenges of our times. Levelling up educational opportunities for girls around the world is key to unlocking the potential of girls to lead more fulfilling lives and fully contribute to the economy and society. Our passion for girls’ education is matched by our experience and expertise, with a deep evidence base and extensive delivery of programmes that benefit girls in different ways across the world. We also care deeply about gender equality and empowering women in education leadership, and are seeking to address this issue in several of our programmes.
In Kenya, the Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) programme is improving education outcomes for vulnerable girls.
Our Wasichana Wetu Wafaulu programme (WWW – ‘Let Our Girls Succeed’) builds on the success and experiences from the first phase of the project (2014-17) to support learning continuity for over 52,000 girls across 480 schools, 60 secondary schools, 23 TVET institutions and 35 catch-up centres. We work with schools, system leaders, health service workers, community volunteers and parents to ensure all girls – including the most vulnerable and those in remote communities – are able to keep learning and progressing in their education.
In Summer 2020, an independent evaluator highlighted that the schools we have worked with performed much better than comparison schools. As a result of our support to girls, educators and schools, attendance has increased and teaching quality has improved.
In mathematics, GEC interventions brought about consistent improvements in all regions. In mathematics, among basic learners, GEC girls’ progress was +2.4 percentage points (pp) higher than their peers’ in a comparison group, while advanced learners were +9pp ahead – the equivalent of an additional 1.5 months of schooling. In English, literacy gains were highly pronounced, especially in arid and semi-arid regions, where basic learners were the equivalent of 3.6 months of schooling ahead of their peers (+9.3pp higher). Meanwhile, in the urban slums, the GEC advanced learners had a +10pp advantage in English literacy progress – equivalent to an extra 2.7 months of schooling.
We are working to support the development of female leaders.
In Rwanda, we have worked closely with the Rwanda Education Board to develop new career pathways for female teachers in lower-primary schools, leading to the creation of school subject leader (SSL) positions.
In February 2020, we completed the selection of candidates for these roles, with 72% of postholders being female – in line with the proportion of female primary teachers in the country. We also worked with almost 300 sector learning facilitators and district teaching advisors nationwide to raise awareness of gender issues.
CASE STUDY: Supporting vulnerable girls during Covid-19
Previous crises have clearly demonstrated that vulnerable pupils in low-income settings, especially girls, are most at risk of disruptions to their education – and of dropping out of school entirely – due to financial pressures and increased rates of early marriage and pregnancy. It was therefore hugely important for us to support these girls when schools closed due to Covid-19.
In Kenya, we rapidly developed a new model for emergency education provision to help ensure that girls in our GEC programme could continue to be reached amid school closures. This new approach mobilises the community, leveraging the availability of community health volunteers (CHVs) – who were already visiting individual households to provide health and wellbeing support – to reach individual girls and their parents with educational material, guidance, and teacher feedback in their homes and safe community spaces. In this way, we have been able to reach and track the most marginalised learners, helping us to gain insights into how we can continue to engage them in learning.
The deployment of CHVs has led to an impressive level of learning continuity for many disadvantaged girls, with over 90% of households surveyed making use of the learning materials they provided.
“I received tutorials from the WWW project and also joined a study group in our village. This helped me a lot when schools were closed because of Corona. It helped me understand many things which I did not know like tenses, grammar and vocabulary. I’m happy to be in school because I have more time to read than at home because I have teachers to help me and I can also discuss with friends”. – Sidi, Kwale County
Careers and employability
The Careers team at Education Development Trust manages a growing portfolio of educational programmes in the UK, including the National Careers Service, ASK, destination tracking services, and two new programmes: Careers clusters – a new European Commission-funded contract to support schools in London, and Making a Difference, an employability-focused programme in the South of England, funded by the European Social Fund. Our team has developed whole new remote delivery models in response to the pandemic to ensure that these vital services are accessible to as many people as possible in the face of economic disruption.
The National Careers Service
The quality of our delivery of the National Careers Service continues to grow. In 2019/20, we provided expert careers advice and guidance to more than 93,000 adults in a range of community settings – the same number as in 2018/19, despite the disruption of 2020. Our provision has helped transform lives and provides lasting economic and social benefit to the communities in which we work. 97% of customers in Yorkshire and the Humber felt that they had benefited from the service, as did 94% of customers in the North East, South East and South West.
Our National Careers Service had its Merlin accreditation renewed and was rated as ‘Excellent’. In its evaluation, it scored 86%, an increase from 80% (‘Good’) in our first accreditation in 2018. The assessment team commented that the trends in overall scoring never normally increase in this way, which is a reflection on the outstanding performance of the Education Development Trust Careers team. We also maintained our Matrix accreditation, following an assessment of the quality information, advice and guidance services we provide.
The ASK programme
Our London-based Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge for Schools and Colleges (ASK) programme is helping educators, employers and students to navigate the world of apprenticeships.
ASK has completed its pilot year (2019/20), reaching 44,530 students, 5,062 parents, 260 educational establishments and 207 teachers across London. This service exists to help challenge preconceptions and ensure that young people are equipped with strong knowledge of the opportunities available to them. This is likely to be all the more important in the context of economic downturn following the pandemic, and we are delighted to have had a successful first year of the programme. In response to Covid-19, the ASK Digital Service launched on 27 April, offering e-training, interactive sessions, conferences and bespoke digital resources. Through these new online channels, we were able to work with almost 4,000 students and support over 150 teachers.
It has always been a privilege to support Education Development Trust as a Trustee, never more so than in what has proven to be a turbulent year for education across the world. Education Development Trust has a mission to provide evidence-based sustainable solutions that transform lives through education. Through the Education Impact Committee, the Board of Trustees has oversight of the delivery of that mission.
In order to ensure that all work contributes to this mission, Education Development Trust has developed a unique impact model which is used to inform the design, implementation and evaluation of all projects. It is a testament to the robustness of this model that is has proved valuable in projects as diverse as training teachers in Kenya to offering careers advice in England.
Education Development Trust’s work is informed by insights evolved over 50 years of international partnership. This remarkable knowledge base allowed teams to respond to the particular challenges of 2020 in ways which preserved impact and capacity building as they pivoted projects to maintain delivery as Covid-19 disrupted the world’s education systems. The creativity and inspiration exhibited in the process has been remarkable. The flexibility and speed of response has been a credit to all involved. New ways of working have made the synergies between research, development and implementation even stronger. The rapid evidence gathering by the research team has condensed learnings from our work and that of many other global actors to provide insights to those struggling to adapt policy and practice. These skills and achievements – of which all our teams should be very proud – stand us in good stead for continuing to make a meaningful impact in the year ahead.
Dr Angela McFarlane | Chair, Education Impact Committee
This has been an unusual and challenging year in many ways, but we are proud of the excellent work of our organisation this year. What we have achieved in 2019/20 – from our Covid-19 response to our continued progress in raising educational standards around the world – provides us with a strong foundation to further our impact as we look to the future.
Looking ahead, we will continue to work to best enable education continuity throughout the ongoing period of uncertainty, to promote effective education system recovery, and to continue to improve teaching and learning outcomes worldwide. This will be evident not only in our programmes and consultancy, but also through our Learning Renewed programme of research, which reimages what more effective, equitable and resilient education systems might look like. We look forward to another year in which we can make a tangible difference to the lives of people around the world, as we continue to work towards our vision of a world in which all lives are transformed by education.