As the UK prepares for a second lockdown, Broadband Genie surveyed hundreds of teachers across the country to see what impact a school closure would have on pupils.
Teachers were polled on how the previous lockdown affected pupils progress and how the economic and learning setup of those students affected their ability to learn.
95% of teachers surveyed believed that further school closures would have a material impact on pupils’ prospects, and of those, nearly half (49.5%) stated that they were "very concerned" about this impact.
95% stated that access to better technology (computers, laptops, broadband) significantly influences the student's ability to learn from home.
During the first lockdown, when most schools and colleges were shut, teachers believed that 80% of pupils made less progress in their learning than they would have in class. This is despite 94% of teachers providing resources and setting work to try to keep students learning at a normal pace.
A significant worry was that those teaching students preparing for their GCSE's (82% of all teachers surveyed) were the ones showing the most concern about the progress pupils had made.
Areas of significant concern for teachers
We asked what the teacher's main concern was if we again shut our schools, given what they had seen from the effects of the first lockdown. These are some of the problems they raised:
- "Social skills affected"
- "Pupils falling behind"
- "Not all children will have access to a computer/good internet connection to be able to access learning materials that would benefit them. Children from lower-income families will be disproportionately disadvantaged."
- "Lack of interaction"
- "Very limited opportunities to monitor the progress of pupils online. Formative assessments in class are hard to implement over the web"
- "Not enough engagement from pupils"
- "Some children do not have internet access within their home, therefore they are unable to continue working if it is forced online due to another lockdown. This then causes the children to be caught behind in the work and it is unfair to them."
- "the struggles of the children's mental health"
- "Lack of interaction"
- "Children will fall further behind but be expected to complete end of key stage assessments as if it's been a normal year"
- "Creating a bigger gap between those who have the support and resources to work at home and those who do not."
- "Pupils not being able to complete the amount of work they normally would in class and falling behind."
- "Attendance. Physical barriers to learning such as not having enough equipment. Not having broadband at home"
- "Children falling behind who are not able to access laptops/computers all day"
- "Students will fall behind and won't have a fair chance at passing exams next year"
- "That some pupils will not have access to technology and fall further behind"
- "Some pupils are unable to connect or log in due to various reasons, Some have poor internet connections some do not have the proper equipment."
- "Poor students will be left behind even more as they don’t have technology resources or settled home life and parental engagement"
- "That disadvantaged pupils will suffer the most"
It's clear from the responses that we saw some key themes in most teacher's concerns.
- Access to the right technology has a significant influence on whether pupils can learn.
- Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds will suffer disproportionately.
- Lockdown significantly impacted pupil engagement and interaction.
The impact on disadvantaged pupils has been a significant worry for teachers since the first lockdown. The government pledged to provide laptops to underprivileged pupils who are at home because of coronavirus and do not own a computer. However, last week some schools were told the number of laptops they were promised had been cut by 80% after the government allocation process changed.
Not only are students from poorer households often without access to suitable computers, but also access to fast reliable broadband is a significant problem for online learning.
Alex Tofts from Broadband Genie said: “Access to decent broadband and technology is essential for home learning. With public libraries set to close, some pupils will have no way of accessing online resources.
“Some schools will be able to provide a limited number of laptops but many pupils will have to be set work that can be completed offline, putting them at a disadvantage. If Schools close for this lockdown, the Government must step up and provide the resources for pupils to continue their education.”
About our survey
Teachers surveyed were classes from reception through to A-Level.
And across a wide variety of subjects (with more teachers responding from key core subjects like English and Maths).