The Impact of Lockdown on Education
There has been a definite impact of the previous Covid-19 Lockdown on those within education. While some effects have been obvious, others have started to arise much more subtly. 87.6% of the World’s total enrolled learners have been affected. To put that into context, this translates to 1.53 billion people. This is a huge number of our population, and it would be wrong to ignore the effects on this demographic.
Some research has shown the immediate effects from Lockdown. Ninety-eight percent of students were reported to have been behind expectations, meaning that only two percent of students were not behind. This means the majority of our students in education have been negatively impacted by lockdowns, but this is expected. Four percent of the students that were reported to be behind had reports of being over 6 months behind. On top of this, the most severely impacted age group are the younger ones, with Primary School children showing the biggest gaps in learning.
For many teachers, particularly those serving in deprived communities, it’s been found that much of their time was spent creating learning resources that were accessible by all. Some teachers would even hand deliver paper resources in an attempt to keep students engaged. Despite their best efforts, the consequences of a learner’s academic and personal growth are, for the most part, negative.
With all that being said, there have been some positive impacts from lockdowns. Schools have shown their adaptability; going fully digital has opened up a whole new realm of education and schools are still using some of the techniques developed during Covid now. To alleviate the impacts that are evident, the government has provided £1 billion for educational institutions as a ‘covid catchup package’, and schools are able to use this however they see fit. For many, they have delved into the National Tutoring Programme, on which we are an approved tuition partner, allowing us to see the impacts first-hand.
Learning loss can loosely be defined as a loss of skills, knowledge or academic loss. Some students did have a gain in their academic progress, but the most common experience was a learning loss to some degree, with some being quite severe.
The overall learning loss has had some research, but is still being investigated with the impacts largely unknown. We are able to draw upon our own experiences as an observer in the academic realm, however. It’s evident that the most prevalent loss is within the core subjects, such as maths or literacy, but also in special skills required for a working environment, like apprenticeships or beauty qualifications. Despite this, subject specific qualifications are still widely unknown, particularly in ages 15+.
Naturally, disadvantaged backgrounds have been most heavily associated with the loss of learning. They tended to experience much less effective learning, made worse by everything being remote. Despite this, it’s important to note that learning loss overall was diverse. When discussing the groups who have been most affected by the pandemic, Ofsted note “This shouldn’t be confused for a simple message about privilege versus deprivation”. It was never going to be a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and naturally, some students were (unfairly) left behind. However, we are able to offer tutoring that approaches each student on an individual level, considering their personal experiences and needs.
It’s almost too obvious to state, but less learning was achieved during the pandemic compared to before Covid. Most learning, however, was completed offline rather than online. This meant that students, for the most part, lacked face-to-face interactions with their teachers and peers.
How effective WAS remote learning?
Learning Loss has been spoken about overall, but the causes have been broadly determined to be the lockdowns. It’s unclear whether remote learning was truly the root cause of this. To give some context, some statistics about remote learning will be outlined below:
- Ninety-two percent of teachers used materials provided by external providers. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but may have led to learning being less accessible.
- Ninety percent provided/used pre-recorded lessons. This has been seen to be less interactive, however it did allow teachers to become more available during the school day.
- Eighty percent of teachers that created their own resources relied on worksheets.
Overall, it was not a seamless process, and many teachers struggled to adapt to the sudden move to remote learning. Students generally reported that they wanted more feedback, suggesting a much lower quality of teaching compared to their previous experiences of education. In addition to this, many struggled to cover the curriculum; remote learning was seen to be rather ineffective, but nowhere near as much as some may have previously thought, with only a minority of the curriculum being missed.
Teachers reported that their inability to walk around and engage/interact with their students acted as a huge barrier in learning. Relationships and rapport between students and teachers were nowhere near what they usually were, and students felt this impact a lot. Students generally had less confidence in navigating online work, making it far more difficult for them to engage fully with their class.
However, remote learning wasn’t the only cause of learning loss. Due to the negative impact on students’ mental health, schools led a focus on well-being upon the return to in-person education, ultimately leading to learning becoming unprioritized, but it was very much necessary to focus on the mental health of students.
Lockdowns didn’t just affect students’ education, but their mental health and wellbeing too. Seventy-four percent of teachers/school leaders agreed that lockdowns have had a significant and negative impact on the student body’s mental health. Students had to deal with stress, anxiety and, unfortunately for most, bereavement while being out of schools. Students themselves reported a dip in their motivation, and it’s clear from our point of view that students lack confidence in their own abilities, possibly caused by the lack of being able to practice within a class environment. As mentioned previously, schools have acted against this, with a larger focus on wellbeing and socialisation to make up for lost time.
Why does it all matter?
Many will look at Covid-19 and be undeniably sick of it all. We get it, it’s been affecting us for much longer than anyone could have predicted. But we cannot ignore the impacts that have, and may still, affect our students. It’s clear that there are learning gaps and struggles in students’ own personal and academic growth; for many, they missed vital milestones in their academic life, which could affect them for years to come.
It’s important we catch up on all aspects of education for students. Many of the overall losses are widely unknown, and we may not see the full impact for a little while longer. It’s vital we remain vigilant and supportive to these students; it has not been easy for them.
If you feel as though your education has suffered due to the pandemic, contact us here to set up a free consultation for tutoring or mentoring!