Will the reopening of schools be enough for students to catch up on missed work?

Apart from cancelled exams, technical difficulties during online lessons, as well as home and school COVID tests, arguably the biggest challenge that returning students now face is catching up on roughly a year’s worth of missed work.

With a National Foundation for Educational Research study recently finding out that primary-school reading and maths levels were below where they had been three years ago, it seems that the need for a classwork catch-up has become ever more so important.

So far, England’s Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, announced an approximate £700 million education support package to help pupils catch up on missed learning.

This specifically breaks down into £302 million boosting extracurricular clubs and activities, £200 million funding face-to-face secondary summer schools, and another £200 million for an expanded national tutoring programme (that helped almost 70,000 children in the autumn term) for primary and secondary school pupils.

Outside this education support package, the government have also delivered or dispatched a total of 927, 268 laptops and tablets to help pupils access their remote education ever since the scheme to provide devices for children from disadvantaged backgrounds began in January.

Another technological catch-up measure is BBC’s broadcasting of curriculum-based TV programmes that run alongside BBC Bitesize’s educational resources.

For instance, CBBC will broadcast three hours of primary school programmes from 9am every weekday and BBC Two will broadcast two hours of secondary school programmes from 1pm every weekday.

Unsurprisingly, to support this catch-up measure, Bitesize Daily Primary and Secondary will also air every day on BBC Red Button and all episodes will be available on demand on BBC iPlayer.

In contrast, the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggested time-related catch-up measures (rather than technological ones) like longer school days, shorter holidays and school year extensions and repeats. However, it appears that the recently appointed Education Recovery Commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins, has dismissed these measures as he said that “right now is not a time for either.”

Also, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) estimated that adding two extra weeks of school time per year would cost £260 per primary school pupil and £360 per secondary school pupil.

Yet one relatively expensive catch-up measure that the EEF and Educational Policy Institute propose is providing £650 million of extra funding for in-school counselling programmes as they believe that “Remedial wellbeing work will be necessary to achieve [academic] catch-up.”

In fact, both institutions also recommend that teaching staff should be trained in analysing and improving students’ emotional wellbeing as it will allow the latter to make substantial attainment progress. After all, students need to be in the right mindset to work.

Whatever the educational catch-up measures or challenges may be though, we should always give credit to all those who are currently persevering in their education and remind them that they are doing well as no other generation has dealt with this large of a disruption to their education than them.

More importantly, we should reassure them that they will certainly overcome this hardship and come out stronger.

Photo by Compare Fibre on Unsplash

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