The National Education Union has commented on a survey by the Institute for Fiscal Studies which has shown that educational gaps are growing during lockdown
Commenting on the survey by the IFS, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Attending school is a lifeline for so many families – and coronavirus has made it plainer that home learning environments are so unequal as this IFS survey shows. Teachers and school staff are very well aware of the issues facing children from disadvantaged backgrounds and are very worried about the further impact lock down is having on them.
“Under normal circumstances teachers and school staff see every day the additional struggles that children from disadvantaged backgrounds have to contend with. Internet access is not the norm, space to learn is not available and many deal with high stress levels due to the daily struggle of worrying about money for basics such as food, clothing and heating.
“Schools are doing all they can to support these children during lockdown by sending out out care packs and learning packs. Lower income families will have, as this survey shows less internet access so a strict timetable that’s all screen-based just isn’t going to work.
“This level of inequality is not okay. So let us do three things. First, let’s get children back to school as soon as we can when it is safe. As the survey shows a significant number of families are not confident about sending their children back. For that to happen government needs to reassure parents and schools that it is safe to do so by publishing the science behind a June wider re opening, and have testing, tracking and tracing in place for reopening.
“Secondly, let’s talk about what children will need emotionally when back in school In order to re- motivate them and connect them to great learning that responds to what their experience of lockdown has been. Schools must be given flexibility to organise their curriculum around what supports their students’ learning. If not, we fear that many students will not re-engage with learning.
“Thirdly, let’s create a new common sense consensus that child poverty is not okay. Let’s build back better. Ministers must tackle child poverty through the coronavirus economic recovery plan. While this period of lockdown will end the educational disadvantage that exists as a result of poverty will not. Schools cannot tackle this on their own.”
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