Parents call for pupils to repeat year to prevent 'lost generation'

Parents call for pupils to repeat whole year to prevent ‘lost generation’ or ‘cancel summer holidays’ as 75% of teachers say their students have fallen behind due to online-learning at home

  • Boris Johnson today admitted that it could take a year for children to catch up 
  • Admitted online learning having ‘huge impact’ on education of millions of pupils
  • Survey found 3 quarters of British teachers feel students are lagging behind
  • Chesterfield headteacher Kevin Sexton said students are ‘significantly behind’
  • Concerned parents feel uncertainty could create ‘lost generation’ of students

Parents are calling for pupils to repeat a whole school year or cancel summer holidays as 75 per cent of teachers believe their students have fallen behind due to remote learning.

Boris Johnson today admitted that it could take a year for children to catch up from the impact of Covid school closures, claiming online learning is having a ‘huge impact’ on the education of millions of pupils.  

A survey by education publication TES found that three quarters of British teachers feel their students are lagging behind previous years.

Chesterfield High School headteacher Kevin Sexton said his students are ‘significantly behind where would be expecting to be’ as remote learning is ‘not the same as face-to-face teaching’.

Concerned parents feel the uncertainty about schools returning – coupled with the need to play catch up – could create a ‘lost generation’ of students.

They are calling on Mr Johnson to scrap the plan to reopen schools on March 8, and instead pull children out of this academic year all together. 

Others said summer holidays should be cancelled to make up for lost learning. 

Chesterfield High School headteacher Kevin Sexton (pictured) said his students are ‘significantly behind where would be expecting to be’ as remote learning is ‘not the same as face-to-face teaching’

Boris Johnson (pictured last night) today admitted that it could take a year for children to catch up from the impact of Covid school closures, claiming online learning is having a ‘huge impact’ on the education of millions of pupils

Reacting to the study – conducted for Good Morning Britain – one Twitter user asked ‘if so much school work has been lost repeat the year and have them all leave a year later’. 

Lisa Pickett echoed their concerns, writing: ‘Why is there a rush for children to return to school?

‘Why does the Government not just make the children repeat the year.’

Another Twitter user who goes by Gary wrote: ‘Boris Johnson has admitted it will take a year for kids to catch up in school. 

‘Even more reason for all to repeat a year in September and not take in new intakes.’

Concerned parents feel the uncertainty – coupled with the need to play catch up – could create a ‘lost generation’ of students

Someone else wrote: ‘Repeat the school or university year or accept a widening gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged. 

‘Academic year 2020/2021 can be written off. 

‘Increase capacity in reception years, support university students, private school fees with an extra year’s funding?

‘Please listen let the children re sit this academic year. For all children, teachers and parents mental health and well being.’ 

Others called on the Government to cancel summer holidays in a bid to claw back lost face-to-face teaching time.

One furious Briton said: ‘Why don’t we cancel the school six-weeks holiday now. 

Others called on the Government to cancel summer holidays in a bid to claw back lost face-to-face teaching time

‘Get it out there, no need for a summer holiday been in lockdown on and off for the last year. Cancel them, sow the seed, queue the outrage.’

Eric Sylvester said: ‘Cancel the six-week summer school holidays so children can catch up on lost education.’

Stuart Burns said: ‘Cancel the summer holidays since they missed so much school last year and this year now, also not as if we can go on holiday.’

Pete wrote: ‘I’ve got an idea. As teachers haven’t been doing much work of late, why not cancel the summer holiday and have children in school instead so they can make up for the lost learning.’

Phil Penhaligan added: ‘They should cancel the summer holidays for schools and keep them open.’ 

Some parents disagreed with allowing children to skip a year.  

Some parents disagreed with allowing children to skip a year (tweets pictured)

Kerry Dixon wrote: ‘Definitely not for everyone’s mental health. 

‘Most of our kids have worked hard this year, they don’t deserve to be punished by being forced to repeat the year. 

‘You would also be telling a full year group of four year olds that they now can’t start school.

‘My son has son four years at university he has had enough. I get your drift but it’s not a one size fits all.’

Speaking on Good Morning Britain this morning, Liverpool headteacher Mr Sexton said: ‘I think [students] are significantly behind where would be expecting to be. 

‘We are working very hard to provide remote learning like all the schools are – but its not the same as face-to-face teaching.’

A survey by education publication TES found that three quarters of British teachers feel their students are lagging behind previous years (pictured: Library image of a pupil working from home)

When asked about the March 8 return date, Mr Sexton said: ‘I think what we’re more interested in is the details of that return, rather than the actual date.

‘I think the date is a hopeful date. And my concern is that we need to make sure we rebuild trust. Let all of our parents and students feel that schools are safe.

‘And when we open we know that it’s sustainable and ensures that they can continue their study for the rest of the year.   

‘I think they are significantly behind where would be expecting to be. 

‘We are working very hard to provide remote learning like all the schools are – but its not the same as face-to-face teaching.

‘And that’s why we want a safe and sustainable return as soon as we can.’

The Prime Minister this week put an end to weeks of speculation and wrangling by announcing schools would not reopen until at least March 8. 

He last night conceded to fellow MPs that the closures were having a ‘huge impact’ on the education of millions of pupils.

In a bid to mitigate against further damage by extending the current school closures beyond half-term, Mr Johnson yesterday announced a £300million support package. The money, he said, would be used to help fund targeted tuition.

However last night it emerged the decision to extend school closures was one pushed through by Mr Johnson himself, amid a split in his cabinet.

According to the Times, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson had wanted to reopen at the end of February – straight after half-term.

 Last night it was revealed that the decision came amid a split in the cabinet. According to the Times, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (pictured) had wanted to open schools, but Mr Johnson overruled him insisting it was the right time to ‘buy the extra weeks we need’ to vaccinate the UK’s most vulnerable residents

Teaching unions push for an EVEN LONGER schools closure as they warn even March 8 could be ‘too early’ to return to the classroom

Teaching unions today blasted Boris Johnson’s decision to start reopening schools in March as they warned that coming out of the third lockdown ‘too early’ could ultimately lead to a fourth national squeeze. 

The PM told the Commons this afternoon that schools will not reopen until at least March 8, in a devastating blow for millions of children and parents struggling with balancing work and home-schooling.

Though Mr Johnson also ruled out a phased reopening of schools after the February half-term, unions are calling for an even longer closure as they claim March 8 could be too soon for getting children back into classrooms without causing a spike in Covid cases.

They jumped on the PM’s announcement fast progress was being made on vaccinations, with doses given to nearly seven million people and the NHS being on track for covering the four most vulnerable groups by February 15 – and the jabs giving them full protection three weeks after that.

Unions claimed there are ‘too many unknowns, such as the effectiveness of the vaccine and the pace at which infections are falling’ to set a March 8 deadline for reopening schools and suggested that Mr Johnson’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown would lead to failure.

They warned that the vaccination of the elderly and most vulnerable in society ‘does not protect parents’ and ‘fails completely to recognise the role schools have played in community transmission’. 

And setting a date ‘runs the risk of creating false hope’, the unions added, as they hinted easing the shutdown too soon could lead to a fourth – and accusing the PM of being ‘immune to the embarrassment of U-turns’. 

The announcement – which means many children face missing at least 111 days of school – came after the UK’s death toll hit the grim milestone of 100,000, with scientists claiming the victims could have been reduced by tougher government action.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: ‘If we come out too early, we will end up in lockdown again.’

‘We all want schools to open, but like the Prime Minister we want them to open when it is safe to do so. This has to be done sustainably and safely,’ she continued. 

But Mr Johnson is said to have overruled him, insisting the continued closure of schools would ‘buy the extra weeks needed’ to vaccinate the UK’s most vulnerable residents. 

One source told the Times: ‘Gavin was pushing very hard. He wanted schools to reopen after February half-term and believed it could be done safely. But in the end the data on hospitalisations and infection rates won the argument.’

Yesterday the PM delivered the grim news – which means the worst-hit school years in some areas will have had only 73 days of lessons since the pandemic began last March – to millions of children and struggling parents in a statement to the House of Commons this afternoon, saying he knew how ‘frustrated’ they will be.

He made clear there is no hope of any lockdown easing until well after the mid-February review date – finally ruling out the idea that some more pupils could return to classrooms after half-term. Currently only the offspring of key workers are in schools, with everyone else remote learning.

Mr Johnson said fast progress was being made on vaccinations with doses given to more than 6.8million people – 13 per cent of the adult population – and the NHS is on track to hit the goal of covering the four most vulnerable groups by February 15. The jabs should give them full protection three weeks after that, he insisted. 

‘We hope it will therefore be safe to begin the reopening of schools from Monday 8 March,’ the premier said – while warning that even that is contingent on pressure on the health service easing. 

However, fronting a Downing Street press conference yesterday, Mr Johnson  warned parents March 8 was the ‘earliest’ date that was ‘sensible’ and safe for children to go back, adding: ‘It depends on lots of things going right.’ 

In a statement to the House of Commons he accepted the closures would be disruptive to the education of millions of children, adding: ‘We recognise these extended school closures have had a huge impact on children’s learning, which will take more than a year to make up.

‘So we will work with parents, teachers and schools to develop a long-term plan to make sure pupils have the chance to make up their learning over the course of this parliament.’ 

He pledged that the Government would continue funding free school meals during the closures, and announced a £300million package to support extra tuition and summer schools to help children catch-up with their learning.

The money is on top of the £1billion announced in November for the funding to support children and young people – with £350million set aside to be spent on a National Tutoring Programme.

Mr Johnson has earlier rejected calls from Sir Keir Starmer to allow teachers to jump the vaccine queue as he told the Labour leader to ‘explain which vaccines he would take from which vulnerable groups to make sense of his policy’.

Meanwhile, teaching unions warned that coming out of the third national lockdown ‘too early’ could ultimately lead to a fourth national squeeze.   

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