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COVID-19: Parents divided over proposals to help school children catch up on missed learning

Written by on 8 March 2021

Parents have mixed feelings about proposals to help school children catch up on missed learning.

All schools in England will reopen tomorrow, as part of Boris Johnson’s four-step plan for leading the country out of lockdown and back to normality.

It follows nearly a year of disruption for school children, with face-to-face teaching replaced by online learning.

Schools have remained open during the third coronavirus lockdown for vulnerable children and the children of key workers, but many pupils have had to contend with remote learning.

As a result, a variety of options are being mulled over by ministers in a bid to help children catch up.

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COVID catch-up plan for pupils

On Sunday, the education secretary told Sky News that longer school days, shorter summer holidays and five-term years are all options under consideration.

These will be welcomed by some parents. Research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows most families are worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their children’s education.

More than six out of 10 parents said they have concerns about their children’s lost learning, with almost one in 10 parents of secondary school pupils worrying that their child will never catch up.

The McHale family from Leeds think the government is right to make changes.

Harrison, 13, believes his education has suffered.

“When I’m doing my online work I get distracted very easily, I miss out on some of the key parts of the lesson,” he said.

Michael & Tanya McHale, kids Harrison, 13,  and Bella, 8 Image: Michael and Tanya McHale and their kids Harrison, 13, and Bella, eight

His dad Michael, a 41-year-old manager in the construction industry, thinks Harrison has effectively lost a year of learning.

“There’s got to be some changes, definitely, there’s going to be some financial changes with the economy, so I presume there’s got to be some changes to education too to help the kids that have missed out,” he said.

However, not everyone agrees any intervention is needed.

Claire Hart and son Oscar, 8 Image: Claire Hart and son Oscar, eight

Eight-year-old Oscar Hart from Leeds says the two online learning lessons his school has provided during lockdown have not been a good experience.

“Everybody’s been really annoying, everybody kept going off mute,” he said.

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But despite that his mum Claire, a software saleswoman, thinks the government is wrong to consider making changes to the school day.

“His school’s been really good,” she said.

“They caught up really well before Christmas and the teachers were really pleased, they’re doing regular parents’ evenings, so no actually I’m not concerned at all that he’s going to be getting behind.”