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Co-MAP: Investigating Covid-19's impact on vulnerable young people

The Co-MAP project responds to the urgent need to understand the impacts of Covid-19 in relation to the most vulnerable young people, including refugees and newly arrived families, and to ensure that school leaders, teachers and parents are equipped to respond to their recovery needs. 

Logo for the Co-Map project

Researchers

Partners

  • Birmingham City University (Lead Partner)
  • Stichting International Parents Alliance (IPA)
  • Ellinogermaniki Agogi Scholi Panagea Savva Ae (EA)
  • Technische Universitaet Dresden (TUD)
  • Institouto Technologias Ypologistonkai Ekdoseon Diofantos (CTI)
  • Liget Muhely Alapitvany (LMA)

Research background

The European Pillar of Social Rights has defined education as the first priority for equal opportunities and labour market access. The phrasing of this priority: "Everyone has the right to quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning to maintain and acquire skills that enable them to participate fully in society and manage successful transitions to the labour market" (Principle 1) indicates that the European Union is committed to a holistic vision of education that puts skills, competences and knowledge at the centre.

As such the main emphasis of all education policy effort in the EU has been inclusion. Covid-19 has created an unprecedented threat to this ambition illuminating existing inequalities and creating new vulnerabilities as communities struggle to cope with sudden, unprecedented changes to economic and social life.

UNESCO have identified wide-ranging, adverse educational, social, health and economic consequences for children, parents and teachers including ‘confusion and stress for teachers’, and the unpreparedness of parents for distance and home schooling (UNESCO, 2020, para. 2).

The Co-MAP project responds to the urgent need to understand these impacts in relation to the most vulnerable young people, including refugees and newly arrived families, and to ensure that school leaders, teachers and parents are equipped to respond to their recovery needs. 

How will the research be carried out?

Co-MAP will work with a social justice theory of education (Tikly 2011) that understands education practice as constituted through the complex interplay of policy, the school environment and family and wider community.

The target groups for Co-MAP are young people aged 10-18, their parents and teachers.

Co-MAP talks to a common and urgent challenge shared by communities across the European Union where schools must play a generation defining role in securing fair and equal access to education for all young people in the midst of a global health crisis that threatens ‘business as usual’ participation in schooling.

Co-MAP opens up an important opportunity for sharing new, tacit, ‘knowledge-in-the-making’ as school communities feel their way through unprecedented scenarios to find what works best for inclusion in their local contexts.

Working trans-nationally, inter-generationally and across private professional boundaries i.e. with all adults who support young people’s learning, parents, carers and teachers and with experimental arts-based methods that encourage ‘thinking outside the box’ Co-MAP maximises opportunities for new ways of thinking, problem solving and practicing to support young people at risk of exclusion to emerge.

Mutual learning from different approaches across Europe will provide a basis for developing better provision in all partner countries. This diversity guarantees that we can develop a programme appropriate for national contexts outside of the consortium too supporting up-scaling and sustainability.

Project objectives

The primary objectives of the project are:

  • To build a state of the art comparative case study of national and local policies for schooling during the pandemic. This will include a study of how definitions of vulnerability and categories of ‘at risk of exclusion’ have shifted as a result of the social and economic precariousness created by the pandemic and how schools have attempted to adapt pedagogies and practices to meet the needs of the ‘newly vulnerable’. 
  • To collect and share examples of inspiring practices and equip teachers to create new pedagogies and practices
  • To use creative, experimental methods to map barriers and enablers to participation in learning for the most vulnerable young people and identity opportunities for agency and self-mediation of learning
  • To empower young people to tell their stories through production of high quality artefacts and self-advocate in public conversations about their learning
  • To increase policy-makers and school leaders’ understanding of the nuanced impact of school closures and how best to focus resources towards supporting recovery for the most vulnerable young people

Intended outcomes and impact

The main result expected from Co-MAP is to ensure that young people at risk of exclusion have an increased chance of participating actively and productively in education so that they can fulfil their potential and maintain and acquire skills that enable them to participate fully in society and manage successful transitions into the labour market.

This will be achieved through a holistic approach that recognises that teachers, parents/carers, leaders and policy-makers, and young people themselves each have a key role to play in securing inclusive and supportive learning environments.

The project will enable: 

  • Young people to learn new creative skills that enable them to build confidence in articulating and sharing their stories with new audiences, including parents, teachers and policy-makers in ways that enable them to self-advocate and build resilience; 
  • Teachers to build the knowledge and skills to listen carefully to the voices of young people and their parents and to understand their traumas so that they design curricula and pedagogies that are responsive to expressed rather than perceived needs; 
  • Parents to take an active approach to understanding their crucial role in young people’s learning and advocating on behalf of their child in conversations with teachers; 
  • Policy-makers and school leaders to gain new insights into the experiences of school communities during the pandemic and the resources and infrastructure required to secure the best possible outcomes for young people at risk of exclusion at this time. 

 In parallel to achieving these educational results Co-MAP will create opportunities for creative practitioners and artists who have been excluded from the workplace during forced closures of the creative industry sector to find new opportunities in the education sector that help them to diversify their portfolios and build financial resilience.