In May 2020, Action Tutoring was asked by Robert Halfon MP – Chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee – to submit evidence for the Committee’s inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services.
The inquiry will look at how the outbreak of COVID-19 is affecting all aspects of the education sector and children’s social care system. It will scrutinise how the Department for Education is dealing with the situation.
It will examine the impact of decisions such as school closures and exam cancellations in both the short term and the long term, particularly for the most vulnerable children.
Susannah Hardyman, CEO and founder of Action Tutoring says, “Early research is already showing that the pandemic will impact disadvantaged pupils the hardest. It’s essential that we, and other relevant organisations, are able to put forward our evidence and knowledge from the field, so that the government can make effective decisions and take impactful actions in response. With the delivery of our recommendations, and all others put forward, we can help to minimise the negative effect this crisis will have on disadvantaged young people and help them catch up after the time lost.”
Action Tutoring believes, and evidence suggests, that disadvantaged pupils, like those supported by the charity, will be the hardest hit by the crisis. A study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggests that children from more affluent families are spending 30% more time on home learning than are those from poorer backgrounds. By June, they will have had more than seven full school days’ worth of extra learning. The absence of education, and other means of support at home, like private tutoring, is simply pushing them further behind.
It is vital that the government prioritises its support for disadvantaged pupils once schools reopen and protects the diverse network of services that contribute to their learning and wellbeing, including charities.
Action Tutoring provided evidence in five distinct areas and submitted five recommendations of next steps. You can read the full submission here and a summary of the recommendations below. It is also available on the UK Parliament website here.
- Provide additional funding to schools in addition to Pupil Premium funding, for catch-up programmes for disadvantaged pupils next academic year – especially those moving into secondary school, or sitting national exams in the summer. This may be required for additional years.
- Consider what adjustments need to be made to national exams next summer – especially the grade boundaries – to account for lost learning time. Disadvantaged pupils must be protected and the attainment gap should not be allowed to widen any further than a reasonable variation compared with recent years.
- Extend financial support to charities serving disadvantaged pupils so they can adapt their delivery and cope with the changing needs of schools and pupils.
- Ensure all pupils have the equipment and access to technology they need at home to support remote learning, if required again.
- Promote a national volunteering campaign, raising awareness of charities like Action Tutoring enabling pupils to catch up.