At Every Child Our Future, we are aware that a great many children will have fallen behind in their education as a result of school closures.
Children from less affluent households are the most adversely affected as they struggled to access the home learning. This leads to greater inequality as the existing educational gap between these children and their wealthier peers will widen even further.
The Government of Jersey has pledged to Put Children First and in particular to ensure equity and fairness to deliver equal life chances for all children. Now is time for us to see the full force of that commitment to helping those struggling children on the island.
The UK Government has announced it is putting a huge amount of funding into the Education Budget to provide extra support for children who have missed out on learning opportunities during the school closures. One in five children either did no home schoolwork or less than one hour a day. Specifically, the government is looking to fund a nationwide tutoring programme within schools.
Pictured: One in five children either did no home schoolwork or less than an hour a day during lockdown in the UK.
So far, the only additional funding that has been announced by the Government of Jersey is a hardship fund to help out parents of children in fee-paying States schools who have struggled to keep up with fees as a result of changes in financial circumstances.
While this is important to help provide stability for children during these turbulent times and to help struggling families, further funding needs to be released to help more disadvantaged children on the island.
A recent report suggested the school closures (due to covid-19) could wipe out 10 years of progress in closing the achievement gap between poor and affluent pupils in the UK. The Education Endowment Fund study found the estimated impact on widening the gap between the poorest group of pupils and their wealthier peers could be up to 75%. Many disadvantaged children will not have had access to the technology needed to benefit from online learning, and may have fallen behind fellow pupils who have been able to access these lessons.
Furthermore, often children living in low income households will be in overcrowded accommodation, with parents working shifts and unable to focus on school learning at home. In comparison, children from more affluent backgrounds often have more support at home, more access to technology and are much more engaged with the online learning.
Pictured: More funding needs to be focused on children from disadvantaged backgrounds, who be in unsuitable accommodation or lack access to tech.
At Every Child Our Future, we believe the best way to help children to catch up with their peers is to put in targeted extra support in schools. We would like to see a structured plan that sets out a range of measures to rectify the damaging impact of school closures. Addressing basic literacy and numeracy must be part of the package and with specific focus on those who were already trailing far behind their classmates.
We know that the return on investment in these skills will benefit the public purse in the long run. It will also build on the welcome introduction of Jersey’s Pupil Premium scheme.
If the Government of Jersey were to fund extra tutoring, then children could catch up through individual sessions in school and find themselves back at the required standard. Without interventions like this, children will face an uphill struggle and see not only their chances of academic attainment diminish but also their prospects for decent jobs.
On Children’s Day with its themes of nurture and growth, we need to recognise the long-lasting effects that covid-19 might have on Jersey’s children and on their ability to fulfil their potential.
Pictured: Children might be back in the classroom, but it's important to recognise covid-19's longer lasting effects on them.
We need to recognise that in order to put children back on track, extra support must be fully funded before the education gap becomes a chasm.
Putting Children First means the Government of Jersey committing to that right now.
Director and Co-founder, Every Child Our Future