Education recovery plans estimated to cost £13.5 billion
Lockdowns and school closures over the last 15 months have negatively impacted pupils’ learning and progress, with an average of 23 weeks’ missed face-to-face teaching and interactions. Disadvantaged pupils have fallen even further behind in academics compared to their peers due to a lack of access to technology, teacher guidance, private tutoring and barriers to parental support for home learning.
A new Education Policy Institute (EPI) report showed that the government would require a three-year funding package totalling £13.5 billion to address learning loss caused by the pandemic to ensure that no child is left behind.
The report, released on 14 May 2021, modelled the economic impact of this learning loss and the long-term implications of the pandemic on young people's employment and life chances. The report also proposed evidence-based and fully-costed initiatives to reverse the damage to pupil's education.
The state of learning loss in England
The state of learning loss as a result of the pandemic is well-documented. In February 2021, the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) released the interim results of a study conducted among 6,000 Year-2 pupils (Key Stage 1) at 168 English primary schools. The study served to investigate: 1) 'the Covid-19 gap': the extent of the impact of closures on pupils' attainment in reading and maths, and 2) 'the disadvantage gap': whether children eligible for free school meals (FSM) were disproportionately affected by school closures.
The results of the NFER study confirmed that Year 2 pupils' attainment in reading and maths were significantly lower in Autumn 2020 compared to Autumn 2017, representing a Covid-19 gap of around two months. The disadvantage gap in reading and maths is approximately seven months - wider than in previous years.
The NFER interim findings echoed the analysis of pupil learning loss by EPI and Renaissance Learning for the Department for Education (DfE), published in January 2021. The EPI analysis among Year groups 3 to 9 found that pupils in England had experienced losses of up to two months in reading (in primary and secondary schools) and three months in maths (in primary schools). These losses were estimated to have increased further with pre-Christmas and early 2021 school closures.
Schools with high levels of disadvantage also experienced higher levels of learning loss, especially at secondary level.
Learning loss has long term implications
The learning loss of 1-3 months in literacy and numeracy skills is a cause for concern. The EPI report modelled the long-term economic consequences of learning loss for affected pupils. It showed a decrease in total lifetime earnings of between 1% and 3.4%, equating to £8,000-£50,000 in lost wages per pupil and generating a total long-term cost of between £62bn and £420bn across the 8 million school children in England.
This finding was a highly conservative estimate of the actual long-term costs of lost learning. It did not consider other significant inequalities, such as the increase in disengagement among young people. Young people's well-being has also been negatively affected over the past year, and more pupils have diagnosable mental health issues than before.
The education recovery proposal
Considering the expected levels of learning loss; typical schools' expenditure; empirical evidence on the impact additional spending has on learning; and the scale of interventions implemented in similar countries, the EPI estimated that the government would require an education recovery funding package of around £13.5 billion.
Some of the initiatives that the EPI proposed for a three-year education recovery package for both primary and secondary pupils included:
- Extended schools hours to engage pupils in social activities and academic programmes (£3.2 billion)
- Summer well-being programmes focusing on academics (£2 billion)
- One-to-one and small group tuition via the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) (£340 million for 2022-2024)
- Increase of the Pupil Premium (£720 million) to reflect likely widening of the disadvantaged gap and extension of the Pupil Premium to those with a Child Protection Plan (CPP) (£390 million)
- Extra payments to teachers to work in 'challenging areas', focusing on the most disadvantaged 20-25% of schools (£135 million)
- Funding to hire a mental health support worker in schools (£1.5 billion)
- New guidance to support better well-being (neutral)
- Funding a new continuous professional development (CPD) fund for teachers to deliver high-quality support programmes (£1.2 billion)
- Allowing a small minority of pupils to repeat a year, if appropriate and supported by parent(s) (£180 million over two years)
The EPI also proposed specific programmes for older (16-19 years old) pupils, including funding a new Student Premium, funded Alternative Provision places, apprenticeship subsidies, tuition funds and 16-19 course extensions.
MyEd Open School closes the learning gap
Increased learning time, increased pupils' engagement and access to high-quality learning resources will help pupils, especially younger ones, catch up on their learning. While the government has pledged that no child will be left behind, these programmes require increased school and teacher resources and will take time to fund and implement.
It is imperative that private companies and private-public partnerships step up to support pupil learning in bigger and bolder ways. MyEd is one of the companies in the Education Technology sector that is innovating in the area of pupil learning, focusing on learning opportunities for all.
Later this year (2021), we will release MyEd Open School: a high-quality learning platform that will connect pupils, parents and teachers in a hybrid or blended learning setting. More than just a remote teaching and learning platform, MyEd Open School has built-in features that will increase safety, pupil engagement, improve communications between parents and teachers and reduce the burden on teachers with respect to timetabling and searching for learning resources. A powerful all-in-one-place tool designed with input from teachers and families, MyEd’s paid subscription plans are both affordable and cost-effective.
More importantly, parents and pupils will be able to access MyEd Open School's content whether their school has a subscription or not. Having free access to engaging, enjoyable, high-quality content any time, anywhere will help boost pupils’ learning outside of school, allowing every child to reduce his or her own personal Covid-19 gap. The MyEd Open School app will be suitable for desktop and mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets.
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