At BCU, a range of researchers have been focusing on investigating the impact of the Covid-19 upon various institutions, from secondary and higher education to prisons.
The impact upon music education
Anthony Anderson, Research Assistant in Music Education, has been assessing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on music education in schools.
In a recent blog, Anthony discussed the difficulties music teachers in English secondary schools face. These include the rapid decline of young people taking examination courses and policy makers apparently questioning the value of arts subjects.
“Negotiating Covid-19 has placed additional demand on the classroom music teacher,” Anthony wrote.
“In July 2020, Youth Music identified schools as particularly challenging environments post-lockdowns, and reported that 63 percent of arts organisations were working with fewer young people.”
Further Covid-related challenges have includedOfsted’s observation that there is less practical work in Key Stage 3 music, and the Incorporated Society of Musicians’ findings that there has been a 39 percent reduction in music provision as a direct result of Covid-19.
Furthermore, 66 percent of secondary schools have been unable to offer musical activities outside of lessons.
Anthony has conducted interviews with 12 secondary school music teachers to gain further insight into the challenges they have encountered. The comments from some teacher participants have been stark.
“Covid has killed music. Absolutely killed it,” said one, while another commented that “Covid has annihilated music education.”
According to Anthony, his research highlights the changing nature of music in schools. “Doing school music may become something quite different without critical analysis,” he added.
How Covid-19 has affected prisons
Based in the Social Research Evaluation Unit (SREU), Morag MacDonald and David Kane have used their expertise in prisoner health to investigate how Covid-19 has – and will continue to – affect prisons and places of detention.
Recently, MacDonald and Kane edited a special issue of the International Journal of Prisoner Health. Bringing together an international steering group, MacDonald brought together global insight on how other prison administrations were coping with the pandemic.
“Prisoners are often a ‘forgotten’ community, which is very evident when it comes to health provision,” David explains. “Prison health services should provide prisoners with a quality of care equivalent to that provided for the general public. This is often not the case.”
According to The Guardian, the death rate in prisons from Covid-19 is much higher than rates found in the community. Meanwhile, in the UK, far fewer prisoners have received the vaccine.
“The response to the pandemic in prisons indicates that much can be done when the will exists,” David says. “What should not be allowed to happen is a return to the pre-pandemic mindset – a return to the status quo.”
A new way of collaborating and learning
Zuby Ahmed, Jade Langton and Lucas Hughes have developed eXtended BCU, an innovative cross-faulty research project. It allows users to interact, socialise and communicate in virtual 3D representations of real-world and imagined environments.
The platform aims to redefine how academics, researches, students, graduates and industry work together. It aims to deliver initiatives such as virtual tours, redefine new inclusive curriculums, and enhance the methods people use to connect and socialise.
It also aims to drive investigative research responding to the global impact of Covid-19 on higher education (and beyond).
“As soon as the pandemic hit, it was very clear that our project had the DNA for impact, focusing on redefining and transforming educational practice, ultimately transforming people’s lives, nationally and internationally,” Zuby explains.
“eXtended BCU will eventually reshape and transform educational practice, personal development and lifelong learning.”
With Covid-19 having such a dramatic impact on higher education, Zuby believes a project like eXtended BCU is sorely needed.
“Covid-19 has potentially ripped up the rule book, so that we now have to be mindful and insightful in the way that everything operates on a global level,” Zuby says.
“Our project is aiming to set a new precedent, in how we can redefine life and existence online. This blurs lines between the physical and digital interactions and the ‘spaces’ they take place in.
“We strongly believe that eXBCU will eventually reshape and transform educational practice, personal development, and lifelong learning.”