Coronavirus: Lockdown home-schooling will widen education gaps, says Ofsted chief

Coronavirus: Lockdown home-schooling will widen education gaps, says Ofsted chief


Coronavirus: Lockdown home-schooling will widen education gaps, says Ofsted chief

Coronavirus: Lockdown home-schooling will widen education gaps, says Ofsted chief

Coronavirus: Lockdown home-schooling will widen education gaps, says Ofsted chief 1

Home-schooling forced by the coronavirus crisis will widen the gap in performance between low and high achievers, and between students from disadvantaged backgrounds and their more affluent peers, the head of Ofsted has warned.

Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of the schools’ inspection body, said she was “seriously worried” about vulnerable children falling further behind during the lockdown.

Figures released by the Department for Education (DfE) last week showed less than 1 per cent of pupils in England were attending schools being run by skeleton staff. Only 5 per cent of pupils classified as “children in need” and used to getting special support were turning up.


The Ofsted chief told the Commons education committee on Monday that various learning gaps were going to be exacerbated as the vast majority of families keep their children at home.

“Covid-19 is clearly going to present the biggest problem for the poorest, the lowest-achieving academically and the least-motivated children. Whether we like it or not, it is going to widen gaps, especially in the short term.”

Ms Spielman added: “However, it’s important to remember children are very resilient creatures … Most will bounce back pretty fast as soon as they have the normal experience of school and the good teaching that the vast majority of schools will have lined up to provide.”

She said Ofsted was collaborating with the DfE to help local councils identify vulnerable pupils who may need extra help. Some 230 Ofsted staff are now working with 40 of the poorest-performing councils so they can contact families and offer support for online learning.

The DfE has also announced that £12m will be spent on projects to reduce the increased risk some children and young people are facing as they stay at home – including support for families at risk of domestic abuse or exploitation.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has also promised disadvantaged children will be given free laptops and tablets in an effort to make remote learning easier.

Conservative MP Robert Halfon, chair of the education committee, said he remained concerned there did not seem be anything “special” in place to help “left-behind” children catch up once schools re-open.

Labour MP Apsana Begum said headteachers had told her they were worried about the potential pressure to make up for time lost very quickly when schools return, and the possibility inspections would add to the pressure.

Ms Spielman said it was “impossible” to say when Ofsted inspections – temporarily suspended last month following pressure from the teaching unions – would begin again.

However, she suggested no inspections would take place during this academic year. “I’m not expecting to be asked to resume full, routine inspection before the end of the summer term,” she said.

The Ofsted chief said there would be no need to change the framework for inspections when they do start up again. “We’re not going to be judging schools, per se, on their response to Covid-19,” Ms Spielman told the committee.

“There is no standard of home learning or online learning by reference to which we would be able to judge schools,” she added. “We know home and online learning are very imperfect substitutes for the school experience.

“We know that children are losing education. It’s not just children who are disadvantaged or academically behind, it’s children without motivation. So it’s in children’s interests to get back into school as soon as possible.”


Source link

Check Also

Covid: Three quarters of university students in England covered by asymptomatic testing scheme

Covid: Three quarters of university students in England covered by asymptomatic testing scheme

Covid: Three quarters of university students in England covered by asymptomatic testing scheme Covid: Three …