Saturday, March 6, 2021

In England, learning delays after six cumulative months of school closures

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Boris Johnson’s confirmation of the reopening of English schools on March 8 was greeted with relief. “Our priority has always been to send children back to school, which is crucial for their education, their mental and physical health”, said the British Prime Minister on Monday 22 February. The schools had to close on January 4, a few hours after the return from the Christmas holidays and have since been open only to the children of “essential workers” (especially for daycare). “My daughter dreams of taking the bus to go to college, that’s to say! “, testifies Laurence Jouenne, a mother of French origin whose two children are educated in English establishments in West London.

However, concern remains in British homes, while schoolchildren have accumulated almost six months of absence from “face-to-face” lessons since March 2020. The impact of these deprivations is difficult to establish in the absence of exams nationals last year, but a first large-scale study, published in early February by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) finds that the first confinement has already caused learning delays (schools remained closed between the end of March and September 2020).

Carried out in September with 6,000 students from 168 different schools entering the second year of primary school, the study highlights a delay ” significant “ two months in learning to read and count, compared to the same age group in 2017. The gap between children from disadvantaged backgrounds (beneficiaries of the free canteen) and from more affluent backgrounds has grown. dug, the former showing about seven months behind in the achievements over the latter. Alarming results in a country where the child poverty rate is close to 25% and where the education system remains very unequal, with 7% of students enrolled in often expensive private schools.

Lengthening the day

“This differential between wealthy and less wealthy families played especially during the first confinement, the aid intended for schools [dons d’ordinateurs] often not having had time to reach them ”, underlines Becky Francis, executive directive of the EEF. According to Ofcom, the telecommunications regulatory authority, 1.8 million little Britons do not have access to a computer or tablet at home.

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