Millions of school pupils are doing little or no work in lockdown


Two million children have done little or no schoolwork at home during lockdown, according to a report that lays bare the impact of school closures.

The study by University College London (UCL) found that a fifth of the country’s ten million school children had done no work at home or less than an hour a day.

A separate academic study found that about four million pupils had not had regular contact with teachers and that up to six million children had not returned the last assignment set.

Francis Green, who led the UCL study, said that the closure of schools and failure to reopen them fully constituted a “potential threat to the educational development of a generation of children”.

Schools closed when the lockdown began in March and most pupils will not go back until September. Tens of thousands of teenagers returned to secondary school in England yesterday but not all schools opened. Schools in Wales will reopen on a rota system from June 29 and those in Scotland will start reopening on August 11.

Head teachers estimated an attendance rate of about 80 per cent of those invited — schools were able to take back 25 per cent of Year 10 and Year 12, who will sit GCSEs and A levels next year. Many will attend a day a week until schools break up for the summer.

The National Foundation for Educational Research spoke to more than 3,000 heads and teachers in England last month, when schools were closed to all but vulnerable children and those of key workers. It found, on average, that teachers were in touch with 60 per cent of their pupils. If applied to all of Britain, this would leave nearly four million children unaccounted for.

Teachers said only 42 per cent of pupils returned their last piece of work, which suggests that 58 per cent, equating to almost six million children, did not. Fifty-five per cent of parents were engaged with their children’s home learning, and 90 per cent of teachers believed that pupils were doing less work than usual for the time of year.

The study said that schools giving online lessons had, in general, higher pupil engagement. Previous research by the Sutton Trust found that private school pupils were twice as likely to get online lessons every day.

Separate research by UCL’s Institute of Education, covering the whole of Britain, showed that children had spent a daily average of 2.5 hours studying.

Twenty per cent of pupils, which it said was the equivalent of two million children in Britain, did no schoolwork at home or less than an hour a day; 17 per cent put in more than four hours a day. The paper focused on the last two weeks of April, covering almost 4,600 pupils.