Since March 2020, schools have been drastically affected by the numerous lockdowns and restrictions imposed by the government, in turn hindering children’s education. It has been estimated as a result that children have missed out on 23 weeks of classroom time.
The questions now are how can this lost time be made up for? And how detrimental will this be to the next generations future? A recent suggestion from the government included an additional 30 minutes of teaching time per day to catch up on lost time. This however has been rebutted by researchers at Cambridge university, stating implementing this strategy will only result in modest improvements.
In addition to this, there has also been a suggestion of a voluntary 8am-6pm school day, which will allow schools to prioritise extra-curricular activates. This aims to help disadvantaged children and built around the “three t’s” for school including: tutoring, teaching and time. However again evidence has suggested the more voluntary a policy is, the less likely it is to reach the hardest hit areas of the community.
It is evident there is a lot to think about when it comes to school policy, and it is crucial children are given the time and tools needed to gain back the 23 weeks of lost education. However, implementing such an initiative must consider all stakeholders involved. Teachers have been regarded as the forgotten heroes throughout this pandemic. Teachers have raised concerns for the effect the pandemic has also had on their mental health, adding more work, and ultimately leading to overworked staff. Overworked and underfunded schools have been a problem spanning before the pandemic, with the past year exacerbating the problem. Adding more work on top of what is already expected is bound to create backlash from teachers, and rightly so.
It seems therefore, the issue is not as simple as adding additional time onto the school day, which at best is a mediocre solution. More research is still needed to identify the best plan of action, which listens to all stakeholders and finds the best solution to a complex issue. Only time will tell for now.