The Prime Minister has said that the government will be releasing plans next week to help children recover from the impact of lock down and to catch up their lost education. Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, says:
“NAHT members entered the profession because they believe utterly in the power of education to change lives and they are more concerned than anybody about the impact of Coronavirus on this generation. The challenges likely to be faced because of prolonged absence from school are complex and there is no quick fix. But there are steps the government could be taking, both over the summer and in the longer term.
“First, we need to help children to begin to re-socialise and get ready to learn. The impact of enforced isolation on young people is little understood, yet likely to be significant for many. There is a desperate need for young people to begin socialising in a safe and structured way again. Over the summer holidays, youth groups and charities are perfectly positioned and experienced in structuring the sort of activities to draw young people out of their homes and encourage resocialisation assuming social distancing rules allow.
“Beyond the initial recovery, there are likely to be gaps in learning for many children that will need to be addressed. Schools have done an incredible job providing remote learning during lockdown, but we know that there has been low engagement from some pupils, especially those already at risk of falling behind. Lack of access to technology and the internet has also hindered learning for some. Recovering this lost learning won’t be a quick or easy job. It will take a considerable long-term investment of time, money, energy and resources, which the government must recognise and provide. This must be led by education experts. There already exists a wealth of knowledge within the profession about how to narrow achievement gaps. We need to draw on this expertise in order to come up with a sustainable, long-term plan, and the government should give serious consideration to a ‘catch-up premium’ to allow schools to focus on activities that are proven to work.
“If the government works with the profession, drawing on their commitment and expertise, and produces a long term, joined up and fully funded package of help, then real success is possible.”
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