In Depth

How is homeschooling faring across the UK?

New survey figures fuel fears that disadvantaged children will fall furthest behind during lockdown

Parents across the world are struggling to get to grips with new roles as teachers to children stuck at home during coronavirus lockdowns.

The World Economic Forum estimates that schools in more than 100 countries are currently closed as part of measures to curb the spread of the virus - affecting the education of nearly one billion children.

But as The Independent notes, “many parents have found the stay-at-home teaching model to be quite difficult”, particularly those who do not have the equipment needed to continue their children’s education.

According to Sky News, headteachers in some UK schools say that around 40% of their students do not have access to a home PC.

Meanwhile, a UK-wide YouGov poll of 2,215 young people published by the Social Mobility Foundation reveals that around 40% of children from households with an income of less than £20,000 a year do not have a quiet room in which to study.

By contrast, only 19% of children living in households with income of more than £70,000 a year do not have a quiet place to do school work.

And these disparities appear to be having an impact already, according to a newly published report by The Sutton Trust.

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The educational charity says that a survey of 6,500 teachers and more than 1,500 parents conducted in the first few weeks of the UK lockdown found that 23% of all school pupils had taken part in live and recorded lessons online every day.

However, pupils from middle-class homes were much more likely to have done so (30%) than working-class pupils (16%).

At private schools, 51% of primary and 57% of secondary students had accessed online lessons every day.

The report also says that 44% of pupils from middle-class families reported spending more than four hours a day learning, compared with 33% of children from working-class families.

The publication of the new figures comes after a leading expert on education warned that forced homeschooling owing to the school closures could widen the performance gap between richer and poorer children.

“We will see a widening of the attainment gap,” Keir Bloomer, chair of Reform Scotland’s commission on school reform, said earlier this month, as The Times reported at the time. “There is no way that can be prevented, the question is how we mitigate it.”

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