Throughout the year, schools across the country were closed in response to COVID-19. With all teaching taking place online, children were expected to learn from home, despite them all having different home circumstances.
Over a year into the pandemic, around 2.8 billion learners have been affected worldwide.
Accelerate Tutors have conducted a survey with teachers and tutors, in order to find out what impact these lockdown measures have had on the education of children across the country.
An astounding 89.1% of tutors supporting children from all backgrounds have noticed that their education has taken a step back in relation to the pandemic, with English and Reading taking the biggest hits. (* Over 100 tutors were asked what subjects they feel had been impacted the most)
48% of tutors have also noticed an increase in demand for additional support in schools and 38.2% have seen demand as a tutor outside of schools, highlighting that teachers and parents are also seeing the damaging effects of school closures on education.
Two-thirds of children who previously received private tuition reported no longer receiving such support. Although the exact reasoning for this is unclear, it could be that teachers and tutors do not have the capacity to provide extra support on a one to one basis.
Teachers themselves are also feeling the strain of moving to online learning, a “terrible stress” has been put on staff and teaching resources. They feel that “not enough consideration” was given in order to allow them to prepare “extra work”. Along with a “lack of money available to pay for extra work”, meaning that they are working extra hours without being compensated.
Despite teachers working hard, it’s not a guarantee that this will be effective as there are many factors outside of the teacher's control. One teacher stated that “I worked very hard to ensure standards were maintained and secured, however not everyone had the knowledge on how to do that with their children”.
Tutors feel that moving to online learning has not put children in equal stead for the future, stating that the lockdown has “widened the attainment gap between children with internet and motivated parents and their less fortunate colleagues with poor parental engagement and internet provision”.
With children from all backgrounds being forced into the same situation, without the support offered by in-person teaching and tutoring in schools it can be said that some children will be at a disadvantage when compared to their classmates.
According to a report by Sutton Trust, 60% of private schools and 37% of schools in more affluent areas have access to an online platform to receive work, compared to 23% in more deprived schools.
However, tutors feel that “the government hasn't set clear guidelines around online education” and that “online learning is suffering as it should be used as a tutoring programme that assists education, not just for virtual lessons.”
It’s also important to note that parents who have busy work schedules may not have the physical capacity to support their children with online learning, especially if they have multiple children of different ages.
Access to technology does not necessarily mean that a student is likely to do better as many students “have missed weeks of learning due to family bereavements or having to isolate after testing positive”.
Therefore, we must not limit this to one simple factor - there are many things to consider when it comes to supporting children in catching up.
There are differing views when it comes to the impact that removing exams have had on children’s education. Some tutors feel that moving to coursework only assessments is not fair, as “coursework-based students find it very challenging” and “some students prefer exams to coursework and they are penalised if they are forced to do coursework”.
On the other hand, other tutors feel that forcing students to take exams is unfair, as “it wouldn’t be a level playing field among students entering the same exam when the progress of some has fallen so far behind due to circumstances completely out of their control”.
All students learn differently and this must be taken into consideration when deciding how best to support them. There is “a long overdue need to work on restructuring learning” and if there’s anything to take away from the last year, it’s that education has suffered the most.
It’s said that the impact of the pandemic on education and children’s mental health will last a decade, so we must do all we can to support our children in their learning. Take a read of our blog post to see how a tutor can help your child catch up on lost learning now.
If you’re concerned about your child’s education and think they could do with extra support, Accelerate Tutors can help. All of our tutors are fully qualified teachers and we aim to make tutoring accessible to everyone. For more information on how we can help, please get in touch at [email protected]