William Eichler 16 June 2020

‘Generation of children’ losing out due to lack of lockdown education

Children who are locked down at home spend an average of 2.5 hours a day doing school work, a new study has revealed.

The UCL Institute of Education (IOE) research uses data collected in the last two weeks of April from an online survey covering 4,559 children from households throughout the UK.

The study shows one fifth of pupils, which is the equivalent of two million children in the UK, did no schoolwork at home or less than an hour a day. 17% put in more than four hours a day.

The paper, which was published by the IOE's LLAKES centre, also suggests the variability in the amount of schoolwork being done at home is adding to existing regional and socioeconomic inequalities.

The report shows that pupils in London, the South and East of England and Northern Ireland are receiving more offline schoolwork, such as assignments, worksheets and watching videos, than elsewhere in the UK.

In the South East region, for example, 28% of children are receiving four or more pieces of offline schoolwork per day, compared with the countrywide average of 20%. Offline schoolwork is lowest in the North East of England, where the proportion receiving four or more daily pieces is just 9%.

Online teaching is most common in London, with 12.5% of children receiving four or more online lessons or meetings daily, compared with the countrywide average of 7%. The top rate of online provision is especially scarce in Wales, where the proportion is just 2%.

Children who are eligible for free school meals appear to be additionally disadvantaged during lockdown, with 15% receiving four or more pieces of offline schoolwork compared to 21% of children who are not eligible for support. This difference is reflected in the proportions spending more than four hours on schoolwork: 11% for those on free school meals, 19% among those not eligible.

Gaps in the provision of online lessons and meetings are particularly pronounced between private and state schools: 31% of private schools provided four or more lessons daily, as compared with just 6% in state schools.

‘The closure of schools, and their only-partial re-opening, constitute a potential threat to the educational development of a generation of children,’ said the study lead, Professor Francis Green.

‘This new evidence from the Understanding Society COVID survey paints a gloomy picture of lost schooling and low amounts of schoolwork at home.

‘Everyone is losing out in this generation, some much more than others. Better home schoolwork provision, and better still an early safe return to school for as many as possible, should now become a top priority for Government.’

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