The pandemic learning gap will take 18 months to close, predict teachers

A new survey from Teacher Tapp has shared warnings from teachers of an 18-month journey in narrowing the learning gap that developed over the course of pandemic teaching

The learning gap created by the pandemic will take more than 18 months to close, according to a new survey from Teacher Tapp. 

The survey, which questioned 4,690 teachers in aid of leading edtech event, Bett, revealed that 36% of primary teachers in state schools reported an 18-month prediction in narrowing the gap, with 32% of secondary school teachers reporting the same. 

State schools overall appeared to fare far worse in the wake of pandemic learning – 14% of teachers in private primary schools and 23% of private secondary schools had not seen a learning gap created by the pandemic. 

A majority of private secondary school teachers thought that their gap would be closed within six months. 

Just 3% of teachers in state schools did not think the pandemic had created a learning gap, compared to 19% of private schools teachers. 

Classroom critique 

Classroom teachers were more doubtful overall about the length of time it may take to close the learning gap, compared to headteachers or members of the senior leadership teams (SLT). 

Thirty-two percent of teachers at the coalface thought it would take 18 months or more, compared with 31% of SLT faculty and 28% of headteachers. 

Surveying by subject 

In terms of subject analysis, 34% of language teachers and KS2 primary teachers warned it would take more than 18 months to level out the learning gap, scoring the highest in this category. 

Twenty-eight percent of maths specialist teachers thought it would take even longer, with English teachers ranking in at 27%, humanities teachers also at 27%, and 31% of science teachers also warning of the longest time delay. 

Thirty percent of PE teachers and 24% of art, design and technology teachers predicted an 18-month catch-up. 

Cancelling closures 

Thirty-eight percent of teachers agreed or strongly agreed with the idea of banning schools closures and classing them as ‘essential infrastructure’. 

Senior Tory MP Rob Halfon, chairman of the education select committee, proposed the idea, pushing for a ban with exemptions allowed on closures that are voted for in parliament. 

Rob Halfon has put forward a Private Members’ bill to argue the case, saying that school closures and lockdowns have led to massive gaps in learning, as well as a safeguarding crisis. 

Many teachers remained uncertain about the proposed ban, with 29% saying they were unsure whether they backed it. 

Twenty percent of teachers disagreed with the ban, while 10% strongly disagreed. 

Education technology has been pivotal during remote learning and beyond but it is clear that there is a great deal to do to ensure that all students are given the very best opportunity to catch up and that teachers feel well supported in their roles Eve Harper, event director, Bett UK at Hyve Group plc 

Primary school teachers were more supportive of the ban overall, with 39% agreeing or strongly agreeing. 30% remained uncertain, while 18% disagreed and 9% strongly disagreed. 

Thirty-nine percent of secondary school teachers agreed or strongly agreed with the prospect, while 27% were unsure and a further third disagreed. 

The difference in opinion between private and state schools was the starkest, with 25% of private schools strongly in favour of staying open and only 15% of state schools reporting the same. 

Fourty-eight percent of private schools teachers were in support of the ban, compared to 37% in the state sector. 

Headteachers also proved to be more in favour of keeping schools open, with 42% agreeing or strongly agreeing with an outright ban compared to just 35 per cent of classroom teachers. 

Differences were also apparent in various Ofsted ratings, with schools rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted showing the most support in staying open. 38% voted for the propsed ban, compared to 34% of schools rated as ‘Good’, and 33& of schools rated as ‘Inadequate’. 

Regional variances 

In terms of region, schools in London showed to be the most supportive of imposing a ban on closures at 40%. 

A third of teachers in the east of England disagreed or strongly disagreed with school closures, compared to 29% in London, 35% in the Midlands, 31% in the north west, 32% in the south east, 30% in the south west, and 28% in Yorkshire and the north east. 

Eve Harper, event director, at Bett UK at Hyve Group plc, said: “Our survey shows that teachers are clearly concerned that the learning gap has widened since the pandemic. More teachers think that the Covid catch-up will take 18 months or more. There is also a stark difference in how long state school teachers fear it will take for pupils to recover lost learning compared with private school teachers.  

“Teachers are also marginally in favour of a ban on future school closures, with 40% not wanting schools to close even in the event of a fresh surge of Covid or new pandemic, although 29% remained unsure if this would be a good idea. 

“The Bett show in March will be the first live event for two years where teachers and school leaders from across the UK and edtech experts from around the globe can discuss how the pandemic has reshaped our classrooms forever and how teachers and learners can maximise the benefit from the innovations that were borne from this crisis.”

You might also like: Edtech in 2022: ‘The pandemic exposed people to what edtech can do’

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