2020 was an unprecedented year in Education with lockdown and homeschooling creating new challenges for students, teachers and parents alike; and for the first time in History exams in the UK were cancelled. We have all had to learn how to adapt to online learning: whether Microsoft Teams, Google Classrooms, Zoom or the many, many video conferencing platforms available. Parents, teachers and students have shown great resilience throughout these unusual times.
The hopes that 2021 would be easier and would mean students could return to school and begin catching up on the learning loss has been met with more school closures, more disruption to children’s education and more cancelled or altered examination processes. Whilst some students and parents have enjoyed learning together, for others it has been a cause of stress and anxiety. Schools have been put under immense pressure to continue to educate vulnerable students and more recently provide online learning for all students, with little or no time to prepare. I have seen some excellent work from our local schools and I salute the hard work of every school leader, every teacher, teaching assistant, admin staff and all the other staff who make our schools run effectively. School disruptions will result in gaps in your child’s learning, because none of us have been this way before and remote learning is new to all of us; we want to make sure your child’s education is supported regardless of the disruptions. We specialise in individual learning progammes and are able to provide space to work on the areas YOUR child needs to improve. We are working with children from Year 1 to Year 13 to ensure they are the best they can be and can achieve their academic potential.
With no professional input there are some students who will read plenty of books and magazines, visit places of interest or engage with nature and the countryside but sadly this is becoming less and less the ‘norm.’ During this period of school disruptions it is an ideal time for your child to seek extra support and reduce the learning loss- there are few places to go currently, and this opportunity (hopefully) will not present itself again.
Experience and research show that for most students the long summer break results in their attainment dropping so that when they return to school in September they have not stood still in their attainment, they have actually lost some of the skills they had acquired the previous year. The loss in attainment can be anywhere from 2-6 months. When I taught in the classroom I had the privilege of teaching the same group of children for two consecutive years and I witnessed first hand this loss of learning; for the many students who had done little or no learning in the summer, we spent the first half term getting their skills back to where they had been at the end of June. Nobody knows how far reaching school disruptions will be on our children’s education. Will they have lost 3 months, 6 months, 12 months? Will they all have the same curriculum gaps? Will allowances be made in 2022 for those students sitting exams? Will our Year 4 and 5 students be expected to reach a lower level when they sit SATs in Year 6? Will those wanting a Grammar School place be expected to achieve a lower mark than previous cohorts? What about our current Year 9 and 10s or Year 11 and 12s? Will the thresholds be lowered when they sit external exams? Or will they be expected to achieve the same standard despite the current disruptions? Perhaps we should be working on keeping these students ahead.
Think back to a time when you were learning something new. One of the most significant skills I had to acquire was learning to drive. What happened if whilst I was learning the skill I didn’t drive for 10 weeks? I became rusty and made silly errors. Not long after I passed my driving test, whilst I was still learning the skills associated with driving, I spent 3 months in India; consequently, I did not drive at all, (if you have experienced the roads in India, you would not be tempted to drive there). On my return to the UK I remember my apprehension about driving. This is not too dissimilar to children’s learning achievements. If they take a prolonged break from learning they will become rusty. For children who find learning difficult or who are reluctant learners they will feel apprehensive about returning to school when the schools re-open and then they will need to work on academic skills, overcoming anxiety and re-adjusting to the classroom environment. For those students who keep up with learning during this time, they may find they are not stretched when they re-enter the classroom environment as everyone will need time to adjust.
What can you do to help?
Ensure that children engage in learning tasks during this period and make them fun. Encourage them to continue with reading, spelling, tables and Maths activities.
For parents and students who feel that a professional private tutor would be of benefit to ensuring the student does not lose ground in their learning we at Kip McGrath Scunthorpe are running a range of learning activities for students aged 6-18. We offer a wide range of programmes and would be happy to discuss your requirements.
Make learning fun. Baking a cake can incorporate measuring ingredients (Maths) and following instructions (English). Take a walk in the countryside and see how many trees you can identify or which mini beasts you can find. Encourage your child to keep a diary of key events; they could include photographs to enhance this. This is a great time for younger students to work on topics like time and money. For older students encouraging them to get ahead with the reading of set literature texts is a good use of time or why not look at our online Essay Skills course?
There are a range of Science kits available online for those who want to add some variety. We are currently running a Book Club and Science Club for Year 5-8 students. Children seem to be getting less hands-on Science in school so this is an area that parents could work on.
So for students who are reading this, enjoy the change in pace to your education but find ways to continue your learning. For parents, look for creative ways to ensure your children stay ahead in their learning despite the long gap in their classroom based learning. Learning is a life long skill and needs to be consolidated outside of the classroom.