The Impact of the Coronavirus on Children’s Academic Performance

The Impact of the Coronavirus on Children’s Academic Performance
November 5, 2021
Marilyn Brydges

Learning and education changed dramatically in the UK when lockdown happened in March 2020. The transition from face-to-face teaching to online learning was challenging for many. For some children, the Coronavirus situation was manageable. With the right resources and support such as online tutoring. However, for other children the effects of the pandemic have had a significant impact on their learning and education.

Lockdown and its implications on British education

School closures due to the pandemic have caused many challenges for students, teachers, and their families throughout the UK. Due to the pandemic, changes were made to subject content and exams. For example, in GSCE English Literature for 2021 and 2022 exams, schools were given a choice of subject content. The change means the total exam marks are reduced by 30 marks and the exam time reduced by 35 minutes. For a full look at changes for GCSE, AS and A-level exams for summer 2022, please click here.

Transition to online learning and long-distance education

Another challenge for many students and schools was the change from face-to-face learning to online learning and teaching. The Sutton Trust found just 5% of state school teachers reported that all their students have access to suitable online learning devices. In response to this, the Department for Education launched a scheme to provide laptops and tablets for students. Pupils who did not have access to online learning devices via another source, including their school were eligible. 

Learning-loss suffered by students during lockdown

Researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of Exeter looked at learning lost. The usual school year is 190 days. They found that since the pandemic, the number of classroom days lost ranged from 110 to 124 days. This means between March 2020 and April 2021, most school children missed more than half of their expected classroom days. Even if we include online learning at home, pupils across the UK have lost out between 61 to 66 days (on average) of learning. 

Even brief periods of time away out of education can have an impact on students. Many researchers have already written about learning loss during longer school holidays (e.g., during the summer). The concern during multiple lockdowns was that students would begin to forget what they already knew. This would be hard to combat.

The new normal in a post-lockdown world

It is unclear whether there will be any further lockdowns. The new reality of education presents opportunities and challenges for all. Learning from past experiences, society will need to work harder to help children adapt to the new normal in a post-lockdown world. This means the future of education will likely focus on digital literacy. Schools will need to determine multiple methods of teaching via online learning and effectively communicate it to all pupils. Schools could begin offering blended learning (a mix of in-person and online learning) as standard, even after the pandemic subsides.

online tutoring

Online learning and online tutoring are innately agile methods of teaching and can be tailored to students and their needs. However, this means educational institutions also need to tackle the issues of children without access to technology or high-speed broadband. Problems like this need addressing in any future online learning and teaching strategy.

Recovery curriculums to catch up on lost learning for children

With pupils losing a third of their learning time during the pandemic, students will need a recovery curriculum that helps them get up to date with the learning that they missed.  To teach missed learning effectively by restructuring curriculums, represents a significant drain on time and resources for teachers and schools. Schools need to go about recovery curriculums in a well-developed way. Pupils will need to learn the content missed without overloading them with too much work.  Any proposed recovery curriculums must understand the needs of pupils so that there are minimal impacts to future education by anything implemented.

How online tutoring can help

The most effective tool in keeping pupils engaged and having access to learning has been online learning. However, 41% of parents with children learning at home reported that they had very little time to help their children with online learning. 20% of Head Teachers across the UK cited online tutoring as a great tool to help with academic performance. Head teachers felt that online tutoring helped parents who struggled to find time to help their children.

Our commitment to supporting children with online learning

There needs to be a renewed focus on learning lost during the pandemic. Students will have faced huge disruptions to their learning, including exams being cancelled. To help those who have been hardest hit get back on track we offer an extensive range of online tutoring across various subjects and different stages. Our online learning includes private online tutoring across primary, secondary, GCSE, and A-Level subjects. Please click here if you are interested in online tutoring.