The impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services - submission by IntoUniversity
We are a national charity that runs 28 local learning centres in 13 towns and cities across England. Each year we support over 40,000 young people from some of the most disadvantaged communities in the country. Throughout the lockdown, we have continued to support our young people remotely, helping them to deal with the mental and educational difficulties they are facing as a result of the pandemic.
● The online learning offered by schools has not been effective for many of the young people we work with, who have effectively lost a term of learning. Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are likely to be disproportionately affected by this.
● Students at transition stages have been particularly badly impacted.
● We have seen an increase in safeguarding cases during lockdown.
● After partial reopening of schools, students from disadvantaged backgrounds seem to be less likely to have returned to school than other students.
● There is a risk that the progress made increasing university participation rates among young people from disadvantaged backgrounds could be undone as a result of the pandemic.
● Ongoing targeted support will be needed to support young people to recover from the consequences of the pandemic. We believe the third sector can play a key role here, bringing expertise and resources to support stretched schools.
Many of the young people we work with have been unable to access online learning regularly, due to lack of suitable devices and/or internet. The following quote from one of our centre staff describes a problem faced by many of our students:
‘We spoke with a family of six. The three older students all have to be online during the normal school hours (attending online lessons) and the youngest has been set Primary work online. They only have one laptop, so the older students had to share, meaning that they were not getting their work done and the family were getting calls from both schools saying that the students hadn’t been logging on for the whole school day.’
Many of our Year 11 and 13 students have not been set any work by their schools. With their exams cancelled this means they have had no academic work to do since March. Not having to study for GCSEs means that they may have failed to develop the study and revision techniques that they will need for later education. They will effectively need to catch-up on developing these skills. Having not had to revise their GCSE learning, they are also likely to have a less sound grasp of the concepts they have been taught, putting them at a further disadvantage going into their next stage of education.
We have dealt with far more safeguarding incidents than we would expect for this time of year (a 50% increase on the same period last year). The incidents that have been recorded this year are much more likely to relate to bereavement or a family in acute stress than during the same period last year.
Evidence prior to schools reopening suggested that students from disadvantaged backgrounds were less likely than others to return to school (29% of the poorest primary students, compared to 55% of the richest (see IFS report)).
At this stage it is unclear whether students due to start university this year will defer entry. If significant numbers of students do defer, places are likely to be more competitive next year and this could have a knock-on effect in subsequent years. Young people from less advantaged backgrounds, who tend to achieve less highly at school and are less well-equipped to navigate the application process, are likely to suffer as a result. The government should consider how this can best be ameliorated.