Pupils ‘need help, not more classes’, experts say

Schoolchildren are under huge pressure to catch up on lessons lost during Covid lockdowns… but more help not extra classes could be key, experts say

  • Children are facing pressure to catch up with learning lost, psychologists warn
  • Government is said to be considering summer schools & extended school days 
  • Educational psychologists are advocating a quality-over-quantity approach

Children are being put under a huge pressure to catch up with learning lost in the pandemic, educational psychologists have warned.

And if the Government decides to extend the amount of time pupils spend in school, a different, non-classroom approach should be considered the British Psychological Society (BPS) has urged.

The Government is said to be considering a number of options – including summer schools, extended school days and shorter summer holidays – as part of its catch-up plans for youngsters who have missed out.

But educational psychologists are instead advocating a phased return to regular schooling, combined with a quality-over-quantity approach to learning.

Children are being put under a huge pressure to catch up with learning lost in the pandemic, educational psychologists have warned (Stock image) 

Dr Dan O’Hare, of the BPS, said it was ‘absolutely understandable’ parents were concerned children had been missing out.

But he added: ‘The notion that children need to catch up or are ‘behind’ at school due to the pandemic reinforces the idea that children have ‘one shot’ at their education and puts them under even more pressure to perform academically after what has been a challenging and unprecedented time for everyone.’

Dr O’Hare said formal lessons must continue, but added that creating the time and space for children to express themselves through play is a ‘useful tool’ to help them process what has been happening.

‘Whatever a child or young person’s circumstances, we can’t assume that the right thing to support their recovery and wellbeing is for them to be in lessons for longer each day,’ he added. The Prime Minister has appointed Sir Kevan Collins as education recovery commissioner to oversee the catch-up programme.

Sir Kevan has previously said extra hours for sport, music and drama – alongside additional time for academic study – will be needed to help children catch up following months of disruption.

Last week, Tory MP Rob Halfon, the chairman of the Commons education committee, said the catch-up should ‘not just be about algebra and Shakespeare’ as children’s mental health had become ‘fragile’.

Mr Halfon said an extension of the school day – for physical activity, mental health support and tuition – would support children’s ‘broader recovery’.


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