Fears over gulf opening between Sheffield pupils after months of homeschooling

A gulf is opening up between pupils in Sheffield as families struggle to home educate for months on end during lockdowns.

Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 12:30 pm

A report by Sheffield Council says there has been “significant variation in academic progress” during lockdown – and the inequality gap has widened.

Living conditions, parents’ jobs and a lack of devices, wifi and data can all affect home schooling.

And it warns a generation of children may damage their education, exam grades and career prospects unless they get extra support.

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A report by Sheffield Council says there has been “significant variation in academic progress” during lockdown

Eleanor Rutter, consultant in public health, says in the report: “Children have engaged with home learning to significantly varying degrees.

“A child’s home learning environment will substantially impact on their ability to engage in learning and maintain progress.

“Children in homes of high occupancy or housing in poor condition are likely to have moved substantially backwards.

“Children who have parents with additional needs are also at risk of falling behind in their education, as their parents may struggle to help teach the subject.

“And children of parents who have jobs with long hours or shifts may also receive less support as a result of parents needing to work and may be disproportionately negatively affected.”

Pupils who were already struggling to engage in full time schooling are also likely to have fallen behind in their education.

Research from the Sutton Trust shows that private school students are twice as likely as state school students to be accessing online lessons every day.

The report adds: “Children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to have engaged with online learning.

“These pupils are less likely to have their own devices, reliable broadband or a quiet, suitable place to study at home.

“And the cancellation of exams and assessments has led to a reliance on predicted grades which can be inaccurate, and tend to favour those pupils from more advantaged backgrounds.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.