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Back to school survey shows teachers believe pupils will be three months behind

A survey has shown teachers believe pupils will be three months behind when they return to school after coronavirus lockdown. Pic: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

A survey has shown teachers believe pupils will be three months behind when they return to school after coronavirus lockdown. Pic: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

The majority of pupils will be three months behind in their studies when they return to classrooms in England, according to a survey.

Pupils at schools in Norfolk and Suffolk will be going back over the course of this week and next week, with many children not having not been back since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed in March.

While the children of key workers were still taught in the classroom, thousands of other children were at home, with schools setting on-line learning.

And a poll of nearly 3,000 school leaders and teachers found that 98pc felt students were not as far along with their learning as would normally be expected at the end of the 2019/20 school year.

Almost a quarter (21pc) of teachers from across more than 2,200 mainstream primary and secondary schools also believed boys had fallen further behind than girls.

The National Foundation for Educational Research’s (NFER) survey found that as of July, teachers had on average covered 66pc of the curriculum during the 2019/20 academic year.

Teachers estimated on average that their pupils were three months behind in their studies, the survey said.

However, more than half (53pc) of those teaching in the poorest schools in England reported their students were “four months or more” behind in their learning, compared to 15pc of teachers in wealthier settings.

The survey also found that the learning gap between disadvantaged pupils and their better-off peers had increased by 46pc, adding that the figure was likely to be an “under-estimate”.

MORE: Norfolk campaign launched to encourage children back to the classroom



Dr Angela Donkin, chief social scientist at NFER, said: “Whilst it is crucial that children catch up, we should not assume that teachers will immediately be able to deliver the same quality of teaching, at the same speed, as before the pandemic.

“There remains a range of barriers for teachers and schools, which means catch-up should be seen as part of the ongoing process of learning recovery, for most pupils, rather than as a quick-turnaround solution.”

She said it was “clear” that additional support needed to be targeted at disadvantaged pupils and schools in the poorest areas.

The majority of pupils had been expected to learn at home throughout the 2019/20 summer term, but teachers reported that only 38pc returned their last piece of set work in July, compared to 42pc in May.

The Department for Education said its £1 billion “Covid catch-up package” will tackle the impact of lost teaching time and include “targeted funding” for the most disadvantaged students.

MORE: From no assemblies to classroom lunches: How one school will look when pupils return



Meanwhile, another poll has revealed more than a third of young people are worried about returning to school after lockdown amid fears of bullying.

A poll commissioned by the Diana Award youth charity and Nationwide Building Society found that one in three (33pc) parents felt their child will struggle to integrate with others when they go back to school.

Some 34pc of pupils said they were more worried than usual about returning because of lockdown.

More than half (51pc) of young people surveyed said they had previously been worried about going back to school after a holiday because of bullying, with 46pc revealing they had been bullied.

Some 45pc of parents said the coronavirus lockdown had “negatively impacted” their child.

The survey was carried out ahead of the Diana Award’s virtual “anti-bullying assembly” which will be shown in primary school classrooms and homes on September 28.

Celebrities, including singer and television personality Peter Andre and BBC Blue Peter presenter Richie Driss, will share their own experiences of bullying as part of the event.


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