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FEATURE FOCUS: BRIDGING THE COVID-19 LEARNING GAP


How to ensure that children are ready to return to school in September


Meanwhile, research published by the


Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) in early June said that school closures may have widened the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their classmates by up to 75 per cent, effectively reversing the progress made to close the gap in the last decade since 2011. With many students of all socioeconomic


backgrounds having been out of school for 4+ months - and classwork moving to online platforms - levels of learning have been inconsistent and largely dependent on students’ home environments and access to technology. Surveys conducted in March and April by


I


t’s clear that, despite the herculean efforts that schools have made over the past few


months to support students remotely during the coronavirus lockdown, the impact of school closures on learning has nevertheless been profound. In our first feature length look this month at the impact coronavirus has had on the nation’s students, and how we make sure children are ready to return to school in September, we hear from James Grant, Co-Founder of home tutoring specialist MyTutor, who offers some great ideas on helping children catch up.


A recent survey of 16,000 teachers conducted


by TES found that 79% believe the attainment gap suffered by poorer pupils has worsened under lockdown and 31% say it is becoming a ‘gulf’.


Teacher Tapp found that, looking specifically at Year 8 students, teachers thought they should be doing around 3-4 hours of study per day, yet only 1 in 3 teachers believed their Year 8s were hitting this goal. When quizzed on the reasons for this, 72% cited ‘Limited/no parental support for learning’, 69% blamed ‘Lack of independent study skills’, and 45% mentioned ‘Lack of access to suitable technology’. At MyTutor, to get a view from the other side


of the ‘school gates’, we recently conducted our own survey of parents using our online tutoring platform. 64% felt that their child had developed new learning gaps since lockdown, with 49% flagging a particular concern for Maths, and 41% flagging gaps in English. With the summer holidays just around the


corner, it’s an unfortunate likelihood that closure- related learning loss will only be compounded by the 6-week break. So, what can schools and parents do to bridge this gap?


26 www.education-today.co.uk


Looking at solutions: tuition Earlier in June, the government announced its pledge to provide a £1bn package to schools in England to help pupils catch up on missed learning. Of this sum, £350m will be allocated to subsidies for a one-year National Tutoring Programme, opening up access to low-cost, high- quality tuition for students whose families might otherwise not be able to afford it. The EEF has backed tuition as a key intervention strategy due to evidence from the Sutton Trust’s Teaching & Learning Toolkit which suggests it can boost progress by up to +5 months. At MyTutor, we’re already supporting over 500


schools with personalised online one-to-one tuition programmes aimed largely at pupil premium students. Our own impact studies have shown that, on average, GCSE pupils who work with us make 1 whole grade of progress after 10 lessons. From conversations we’ve had with school


SLTs, many are already considering deploying the extra government funding to roll out catch-up tuition programmes from September, as well as Summer programmes to claw back ground on learning gaps. Elroy Cahill, Headteacher at Kingsley Academy, one of our partner schools, recently wrote about the impact of a MyTutor Maths programme for his students: “Being one-to-one, these sessions were


completely tailored to Mohammed's needs and also allowed him to ask questions in a safe space, to practise concepts demonstrated in class and to address gaps or areas of need from his mock examinations.” “By March 2020, Mohammed had moved from a grade 1 in Maths, to a secure grade 5. And


July/August 2020


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