Strategic management of online education in English secondary schools during Covid 19 and beyond

Jewitt, Katharine; Baxter, Jacqueline and Floyd, Alan (2021). Strategic management of online education in English secondary schools during Covid 19 and beyond. In: EDULEARN21 Proceedings: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies, IATED Academy, pp. 765–772.



Covid 19 has presented unprecedented challenge to school leaders in England: challenge that intensifies as pupils return to full time schooling (Adnan et al, 2020; Dhawan, 2020). During lockdown schools developed online learning strategies, but to date there is little or no knowledge of how online learning has been led and managed or how they have /or will address the needs of disadvantaged pupils (Jewitt et al., 2020).This project takes a mixed methods approach to investigate how school leaders; head teachers/ CEOs & heads of department, in state secondary schools in England, are strategically planning for the management of online learning over the next 2 years, and how this builds on current practices. Using a case study approach based in 20 schools, the project uses an adaptation of Puntedura’s model of differing degrees of technology integration to establish what level of online provision is being offered at present and what plans schools have for the next 2 years (2006 2012) These are : L1 – Substitution- technologies are used passively to support teaching; L2 - augmentation – traditional pedagogies are adapted for online use; L3 – Modification-strategic thought is given to the design of online learning and enhancements that add value to online teaching are implemented in order to improve learner performance; L4 – strategic planning for design of online offerings linking to whole school/ department approaches in online learning. (van der Spoel et al., 2020). As such, the project offers unique insights into the short- and medium-term planning for online learning and important contributions to policy and practice.

Theoretical approach:
The project takes a strategy as practice approach to strategy, as this has been found to be most useful in our previous projects on strategic management in schools (Baxter and Floyd, 2019; Baxter and Cornforth, 2019), and incorporates a strategy as learning approach, that is pertinent given the uncertainties prevalent at this time.

The research questions are:
• At what level are schools currently operating in terms of the 4 operational levels of online practice, and when and why were online strategies implemented?
• What changes/ amendments to strategies have leaders implemented due to Covid19?
• How are schools operationalising strategies with their staff?
• What strategies are in place for pupils with SEN and limited tech/study space?
• What opportunities and challenges are inherent in the leadership and management of online learning in secondary schools in England?
• How are school leaders responding to these challenges?
• What key practices contribute to the success of online strategies?
• What strategies are leaders putting in place for online learning in the future, both in response to ongoing pandemic and as part of ‘business as usual’.

The study has found that the strategic management of online learning has been very different in schools with high numbers of socioeconomically deprived learners, to that provided other schoools.It revealed key areas of challenge as well as opportunities to mainstream some processes and practices adobpted during covid. These practices that will be shared in a MOOC and which is freely available to headteachers and CEOs of multi-academy trusts.

Viewing alternatives


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions
No digital document available to download for this item

Item Actions