Schools and parents across Britain are turning to virtual tuition services to prevent pupils from falling up to a year behind in key subjects like maths.
It is widely accepted that the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced most pupils out of school since March, will produce substantial losses in learning that will also be impacted by school closures over the summer months.
… maths knowledge normally regresses by two to three months over the summer break due to lack of practice
Education experts believe that this will accumulate into substantial and permanent learning losses as many children fall further behind over the summer and never catch up.
Why virtual tuition is needed
A recent report from RISE Insight revealed that the time spent at home during lockdown could result in more than a full year’s worth of learning loss because pupils will be behind the curriculum when they return to school and will fall yet further behind as time goes on.
In addition, experts say maths knowledge normally regresses by two to three months over the summer break due to lack of practice. This loss of learning is known as the ‘Summer Slide.’
It means many schools will potentially face chaos in September, with pupils struggling to catch up from the impact of the coronavirus lockdown.
Dr Junaid Mubeen, director of education, Whizz Education, said: “Our research adds to the existing body of evidence around summer learning loss, reinforcing earlier findings that the loss is seismic in mathematics.
“The research reminds us that education is a year-round activity. That realisation is especially important right now as students face the double whammy of school closures and the summer break. It behoves us as educators to think about how students – particularly the most vulnerable – can access quality, individualised learning during this time. We’re proactively engaging with schools and governments to get students onto Maths-Whizz so that their learning can continue uninterrupted.”
Internet access for all
Richard Marett, CEO of global learning company Whizz Education, said: “We have seen an increase in usage of up to 50% [in its interactive tuition programme] in some schools in the UK since the onset of the school lockdown. Many parents are rightly concerned about their child’s education. They need professional support if home schooling is to be effective.”
The company says this highlights the importance of a cross-party initiative in Westminster to ensure children from low-income families have internet access.
Marett added: “There is strong evidence that a gap in teaching a subject like maths can actually result in a pupil’s knowledge of that subject regressing… not only does the child stop learning, but their progress can actually go backwards.
“For this reason, schools normally face a challenge catching up even at the best of times in September, but this year things will be far more difficult. Schools will need to deploy remediation programmes to reduce long-term lost learning following reopening. There are huge benefits to schools and parents if they are able to take advantage of online learning between now and the start of the new school year.”
Boosting maths ability
Research shows that just 60 minutes of online tuition per week over the course of a year can boost a child’s maths ability by the equivalent of 18 months learning. The Maths-Whizz programme (www.whizz.com) uses interactive learning and games to tailor virtual maths tuition to each pupil’s learning needs. It uses AI to teach children, mirroring the behaviour of a human tutor, enabling parents and teachers to provide feedback and support.
Maths-Whizz has been certified by kidSAFE, the independent certification service that reviews and certifies the safety practices of child-friendly websites and applications.
The programme is being used by many schools throughout the UK. However, not all children have access to home learning facilities – hence Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh recently submitted a bill with cross-party support in Westminster that will ensure 1.3 million children on free school meals are given internet access and devices to help them to study.
The award-winning company was formed 16 years ago and has since partnered with schools, ministries of education and development agencies to deliver individualised learning to over a million students (including the most impoverished) worldwide.