40 Percent of Pupils in England Missed Target for Learning Time During Closures: Report

By Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Freelance Reporter
Simon Veazey is a UK-based journalist who has reported for The Epoch Times since 2006 on various beats, from in-depth coverage of British and European politics to web-based writing on breaking news.
September 6, 2021 Updated: September 6, 2021

When schools in England were closed during lockdowns, 4 out of 10 children didn’t receive the minimum teaching as set out in the government’s own benchmarks for remote learning time, according to a new report.

The report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), published on Sept. 6, comes as pupils return to school in England after the summer break with pandemic restrictions now mostly lifted.

The report examined data from March 2020 to March 2021. It found that during the second round of school closures, around 40 percent of children did not reach standards set out by the Department of Education (DfE).

Those standards were three hours of remote education every day for 5- to 7-year-olds, four hours for 8- to 11-year-olds and at least five hours for 11- to 14-year-olds.

According to the report, a quarter of parents believe it will take at least one school year to make up for lost learning. Seven percent believe that their child will never make up the gap.

Adam Salisbury, a research economist at IFS and an author of the report, said that the second round of remote learning went far better than during the first round. “But even with this welcome improvement, many children still struggled with home learning; around 4 in 10 pupils did not meet the government’s minimum guidelines for learning time during the second round of school closures.

The research also found that when the schools did open in the autumn of 2020, poorer pupils on average ended up spending more time at home due to self-isolation, according to the report. They were also less likely to have access to school provisions during self-isolation.

Angus Phimister, a research economist at IFS and an author of the report, added: “Catch-up policies need to be carefully designed to be taken up by poorer pupils if they are to have any chance of putting a dent in the educational inequalities that have grown so much wider during the pandemic.”

In June, the DfE announced an additional £1.4 billion ($1.94 billion) of funding, on top of the £1.7 billion ($2.36 billion) already pledged for catch-up, to help pupils in England make up for lost learning.

The programme included £1 billion ($1.39 billion) to support 15-hour tutoring courses for children.

The DfE said that the government had acted swiftly to minimise the impact of the school closures.

A spokesperson for the department said, “To ensure that pupils could continue to receive their education at home, we provided more than 1.3 million laptops and tablets to disadvantaged students, funded Oak National Academy to provide video lessons, and set clear expectations for remote education quality, including a minimum number of hours per day.

“We have also committed to an ambitious, long-term education recovery plan, investing over £3 billion and significantly expanding our tutoring programme to support children and young people to make up for education lost during the pandemic.”

PA contributed to this report.

Simon Veazey
Freelance Reporter
Simon Veazey is a UK-based journalist who has reported for The Epoch Times since 2006 on various beats, from in-depth coverage of British and European politics to web-based writing on breaking news.