British pupils 'struggled to continue learning at home'

By Hannah Richardson
Education and social affairs reporter

Little boy working on schoolbook with mother at homeImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
Some 8 million children in England were sent home from school in March

A majority of British children struggled to continue learning at home during the lockdown, a report says.

The Office for National Statistics research found that of the 52% who struggled, three-quarters of parents gave a lack of motivation as a reason.

The research, based on weekly household surveys between April and June, also found women's well-being was being more adversely affected than that of men.

It also showed wide disparities in what families were able to do.

The ONS researchers carried out nationally representative surveys of more than 12,000 people in Great Britain between 3 April and 7 June about their experiences of home-schooling during the coronavirus pandemic.

'Not motivated'

Schools closed for most pupils at the end of March in England, Wales and Scotland, as the pandemic took hold. Some schools re-opened in England on or around 1 June for some year groups.

Perhaps surprisingly, the research found under one in 10 parents complained about lack of devices to work on, although this rate doubled for single-parent households.

Providing laptops for disadvantaged children has been a focus of England's government.

But Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat education spokesman said the figures still suggested 450,000 young people were struggling to learn due to a lack of technology at home.

She said: "These damning figures show thousands of children have struggled to learn from home during lockdown due to a lack of devices.

"The government has failed these children and their parents by failing to get a lap top to every pupil who needed one."

However, lack of motivation was by far the biggest reason for parents to say their children had found it difficult to carry on with school work.

One-in-three women said the situation was negatively affecting their own well-being, compared with one in five men.

Some 43% of home-schooling parents said their children's well-being was being negatively impacted by the experience.

Impact on work

Parents who had not been working in the previous seven days were significantly more likely to have been helping children with their school work (86%), compared with those who had worked (74%).

And parents with a university education were more likely to have attempted home schooling than those without.

Notably, just under half (49%) of parents were confident to some degree in their ability to help their children's learning.

While nearly a third of working parents said the requirement to home school had been negatively affecting their job.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The majority of children have been out of school since March

A separate report by the ONS, found women were bearing the brunt of the home schooling experience, with women tending to carry out more educational and caring tasks during lockdown.

The findings will be particularly worrying for parents of children facing exams in the near future.

Although exam boards have said they will be taking account of some of the lost learning by delaying next summer's exams slightly, there have been calls fro head teachers for many more changes to ensure pupils are treated fairly.

Governments in England, Wales and Scotland are aiming for a full return of pupils when the new term begins, but there are concerns that local lockdowns could see some children sent back home.