As research finds poorer children have been hit hardest by lockdown, Jane Harley warns about the consequences of isolation for children’s language skills.
Research by Teach First found the poorest pupils in England and Wales are suffering disproportionately, as many schools don’t have the resources to ensure they can keep learning during self-isolation (Education of poorest pupils in England and Wales ‘suffers most during Covid isolation’, 23 November). The longer children spend outside school, the worse it will be for those struggling to keep up.
As our recent Oxford Language report showed, 92% of teachers believe the “word gap” – where a child’s vocabulary is below age-related expectations – has widened following school closures. Helping pupils to understand the language being used by teachers is vital to them succeeding in education and beyond.
If we are to “level up” Britain, we must take steps to address the impact of Covid-19 on basic skills. Ensuring access to online learning is an important starting point. We should also be encouraging vocabulary development at home.
Without adequate support, we risk the Covid-19 generation experiencing worse outcomes in the future. The government, and the wider education community, needs to act now.
Policy and assessment director, Oxford Education at Oxford University Press