Lost Learning Time during the Covid Era, how worried should parents be?

Lost Education Time

It’s a strange kind of Summer this year; with so much time spent home learning in 2020/21 and no SATs and GCSEs for the second year in a row, the idea of lost learning has reared its head. This idea, mixed with the news stories about slow recovery in the education sector and the usual ‘summer slide’, it’s easy to see why parents are concerned.

The good news is, while U.S. studies find students lose one month of learning over the summer months, this is down to the fact that the US school break is 11 weeks compared to 6 weeks in the UK. And while higher losses were measured for maths, much of the data around the summer slide is inconclusive.

What is of more concern in the UK is a study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies. In this study, the amount of daily schoolwork secondary pupils completed at home during last year’s lockdown declined the longer they stayed out of the classroom.

All schools have been working on a catch-up plan, but beware, says DR Dan O’Hare, co-chair of the BPS division of educational and child psychology, of talking too much about lost education to your child. “The notion that children need to catch up or are ‘behind’ at school due to the pandemic puts them under even more pressure to perform academically after what has been a challenging and unprecedented time for everyone,” he told the PA News agency.

So as parents, what can you do? Firstly, there is a multitude of ways you can help your child this Summer without putting them under pressure.

  • Look at their yearly report, as this will show you what areas need more focus. Alongside this, compare their annual reports to see if there is a wide discrepancy. Perhaps your child needs to revise a little more or get extra help with knowledge gaps (understandable during home learning), or learn to express themselves more clearly in tests. Locate the gaps with the help of their teachers and then ask them what kind of help they would like.
  • Whether your child is struggling or not, one area most pupils tend to slide in is Maths. Solve this by going over all topics from the last year and past papers. Just twice a week during the Summer can make a difference to the Autumn term.
  • For children making the transition to secondary school in September, revising Year 6 work is vital. Many secondary schools will be using CAT exams (see below) in the autumn term, especially as there were no SATs this year. Working with a Tutor can also be helpful and allow a child to express more clearly areas they feel unsure about.
  • The Cognitive Abilities Tests (CATs) are used in most secondary schools to test general intelligence and stream in Maths and English. However, you cannot revise for these tests as they are designed to assess a pupil’s ability in three different areas: verbal (thinking with words), quantitative (thinking with numbers), and non-verbal (thinking with shapes and space). They do not test a child’s knowledge but focusing on consistent learning over the Summer will help your child feel ready.
  • Make sure your child reads through summer. News articles, fiction and non-fiction will all increase their vocabulary, literacy skills and essay writing techniques. If your child isn’t a reader or bored of reading, try and entice them into new reads or older reads. Try the Book Trust for ideas.

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