Primary school pupils learned 'little or nothing' from online lessons

Primary school pupils learned ‘little or nothing’ from online lessons during lockdown and lost a FIFTH of the progress they would have made in the classroom, study finds

  • Primary school pupils missed out on a fifth of their school progress in lockdown
  • Study claims pupils learned ‘little or nothing’ while using online classrooms
  • Online learning had the worst impact on children from disadvantaged families
  • Research was carried out in the Netherlands, but experts say it also reflects UK 

Primary school pupils learned ‘little or nothing’ from online lessons during lockdown and lost a fifth of the progress they would have made in the classroom, a study has found.

The report from Oxford University says that while remote teaching was often of a high quality, youngsters’ education still suffered.

Lower levels of learning were even greater in families from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The findings originally came from data gathered in the Netherlands, where schools closed for eight weeks in the first lockdown.

But researchers at Oxford’s Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science say they’re applicable to the UK too.

Research from the Netherlands suggest primary school pupils lost on average 20 per cent of expected progress because of school closures

The study’s authors Dr Per Engzell, and DPhil candidates Arun Frey and Mark Verhagen, say the findings are ‘dire’ and are likely to be reflected internationally.

Alarmingly, the Netherlands’ students had among the best possible virtual learning opportunities and yet lost on average 20 per cent of expected progress because of school closures.

Dr Engzell said ‘Students made little or no progress while learning from home and losses are particularly concentrated among students from homes with parents with low levels of education.

‘For them, the loss was about 50 per cent worse than for others.’ 

Arun Frey said ‘These results confirm many of the worst fears that educators and other stakeholders had when going into the first lockdown.

‘The Netherlands did so many things right. Teachers and school officials made a tremendous effort. The government provided additional support and financial resources.

‘From broadband access to housing and parental support, conditions in the Dutch system outscore most of its neighbours.’

‘If anything, consequences are likely to be graver in the UK, where schools also stayed closed for longer.’

In the Netherlands, student progress was ‘seen to decline considerably’ despite advanced digitalisation in Dutch schools, a relatively short first lockdown and world-leading rates of broadband access for children studying at home.

According to the Oxford team, the Dutch research is even more worrying for the many countries that were far less prepared for the challenges of remote learning.

The study’s authors Dr Per Engzell, and DPhil candidates Arun Frey and Mark Verhagen, say the findings are ‘dire’ and are likely to be reflected internationally

More encouragingly, tthough the vast majority of students’ performance deteriorated during remote learning, some Dutch schools experienced only a small, or even no drop in learning.

Mark Verhagen said ‘Teachers’ actions and school policies seem to play an important role in mitigating the negative consequences of the pandemic, and we need to understand what’s driving these differences.’

As children and teachers across the world return to ‘proper’ schooling, the researchers say their findings are ‘crucial to prepare them for the gaps that will need to be bridged’.

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