This week’s Education insights explores the impact the pandemic is having on students' learning and current issues rising in the sector. There is a rising concern raised by a staff union on students’ mental health, as well as other issues such as attainment gaps and tackling sexual harassment in schools.
New catch-up funding is around £50 more per pupil a year and ‘long way off’ what is needed, Education Policy Institute says
The Education Policy Institute (EPI) has said this is “a fraction of the level of funding required to reverse learning loss seen by pupils” since March last year. Education unions have said the latest package would fall short of what is needed for pupils to reverse the damage of the coronavirus pandemic on education, which caused most pupils to spend months out of school in total. The Department for Education (DfE) announced up to 100 million tutoring hours for children and young people across England under these measures. This shows the importance of distributing free resources in schools to further support students.
Mental health of students ‘single biggest concern’ of school staff, union finds
More than 600 teachers, teaching assistants, headteachers and early years practitioners in the UK were asked in February what they thought were the biggest challenges they faced. “Mental health was the single biggest concern voiced by our members,” the union’s report said. “It was clear that the impact of coronavirus would be felt for a long time and that children would need to develop social skills and that the curriculum needed to support this.” Education recovery, funding levels, staffing and the attainment gap were other issues frequently raised by members, according to the education branch of the union. LifeSkills created with Barclays have a range of wellbeing and resilience resources to support educators in this area.
Sexual harassment normalised among children, warns Ofsted
The watchdog visited 30 state and independent schools and two further education colleges and spoke to more than 900 young people about sexual harassment. It found nine in ten of the girls spoken to said that sexist name-calling and being sent unwanted explicit pictures or videos happened “a lot” or “sometimes”. Most students felt that the relationships, sex and health education they received at school did not give them the information and advice they needed to navigate the reality of their situations. Many teachers said they lacked knowledge on topics such as consent, healthy relationships and sharing of sexual images. Inspectors are urging school and college leaders to “develop a culture” where all types of sexual harassment are recognised and addressed. Women’s groups are also calling for school staff to be trained to change the culture and for a government taskforce.
Students from graduate households received more generously assessed grades, study suggests
Researchers suggest that teachers face an “almost impossible task” in fairly awarding A-level and GCSE grades in place of exams during the pandemic. The study by University College London and the London School of Economics found that students in England from highly educated backgrounds benefited from more generously assessed grades. Even after adjusting for previous results and social background, those from graduate households were 15% more likely to get a better grade from their teachers than from using the exam process. At Hopscotch, we are committed to creating inclusive educational programmes to work towards closing these awarding gaps.
DfE extends pupil premium to children with ‘no recourse to public funds’
Schools will be able to claim additional pupil premium funding for children with “no recourse to public funds” who were given temporary free school meals eligibility last year, following a legal threat. Last April, the DfE extended free schools meals eligibility to children usually denied them because of their parents’ immigration status as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This included undocumented children, the children of failed asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups. Legal groups believe thousands of children were affected. We are pleased to see this positive action to extend the pupil premium.