Victorian COVID-19 Lockdowns Cause Kids to Fall Behind in School

April 21, 2021 Updated: April 21, 2021

Education experts are calling for calm after it was revealed that many children in Victoria have fallen behind their peers, with some as old as seven starting the school year without knowing the alphabet.

To help, the Victorian state government has employed more than 5000 tutors in schools to help kids catch back up after a chaotic academic year.

Melton West Primary School teacher Nicole Douglas, who is working as a tutor in Victoria, told the Herald Sun that students fell behind in their learning because some parents could not support their online learning.

“A lot of our grade one students were quite far behind (when they started school),” Douglas said, as she had “quite a number” of students who were unable to count to 20, while others didn’t know any letters.

“They weren’t on a reading level and couldn’t recognise words,” she said.

However, education experts in Victoria are telling parents not to panic if their children have fallen behind.

Adam Voigt, a former principal and education expert, said parents need to “take a chill pill” because children all learn at their own pace.

“We just need to trust our teachers, stop panicking, stop putting pressure on kids, and actually help them love learning again, because that is what the loss has been from 2020,” Voigt told 3AW radio.

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A teacher is seen demonstrating a virtual classroom at Glenunga High School in Adelaide, April 3, 2020. (AAP Image/David Mariuz)

More parents are also turning to private tutoring to help children learn. A tutoring centre in Melbourne told Nine news that they were experiencing record high enrolments across all year levels.

“The younger ones I’ve seen lack even being able to count forwards and backwards from 10,” tutor Andrew Lasky said but was confident children would be able to catch up quickly.

Voigt said he received more feedback from teachers about the social gap students are returning to school with rather than education gaps.

“For some of our kids, getting back into…the classroom and being in environments where there’s a lot of social interactions was challenging,” he said.

The $250 million package was announced last October to hire tutors who can provide targeted teaching to students.

“We know some students thrived during remote learning, but we also know some struggled,” Victorian education minister James Merlino said. “This is about ensuring that no student is left behind.”

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Three children do school work at their family home and cattle property on April 05, 2020, in Tarpoly Creek, Australia. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

Parents and children worldwide are also experiencing the same issue of kids falling behind from online learning compared to classroom learning.

An Epoch Times reader survey showed more than two-thirds of respondents from the U.S. said their children had fallen behind due to virtual schooling.

“People need to open their eyes and realize that our children are much more at risk from social isolation and depression than COVID,” a reader Shelly Gorczyca said. “What these shutdowns have done to our children is horrible, and any politician that supports them should be removed from office.”

A UK report also found 2.5 million children had received zero formal education during the lockdowns, and a fifth of students were out of school.