Independent school pupils 'twice as likely' to get daily online lessons

By agency reporter
April 22, 2020

A third of pupils are taking part in online lessons while schools are closed, but independent school pupils are twice as likely as state school pupils to take part in lessons every day. This is according to new research from the Sutton Trust which looks at the impact of school closures on state schools compared to independent schools.

A total of 6,500 teachers were surveyed through Teacher Tapp to find out how much schools are supporting their pupils, along with 1,508 parents surveyed by Public First to explore learning in the home. The polling found over half of students in independent primaries (51 per cent) and secondaries (57 per cent) take part in online lessons every day. This is two and half times as often as their state school contemporaries (19 per cent and 22 per cent).

This gap in provision is explained largely by access to resources. Independent schools as well as state schools in more affluent areas are more likely to have existing online platforms that allow them to broadcast classes online, or receive work submitted by a class. When schools shut down on 23 March 2020, three-fifths (60 per cent) of teachers in independent schools and over a third (37 per cent) of those in state schools in the most affluent areas had access to a platform to receive work, compared to under a quarter (23 per cent) of those in the most deprived schools.

Teachers in more deprived schools report that their students don’t have access to tablets or laptops or adequate internet access. In the most deprived state schools, 15 per cent of teachers say that more than a third of their students learning from home do not have adequate access to an electronic device.

These inequalities in school provision and the home environment are having an effect on the quantity and quality of work being produced by pupils. 50 per cent of teachers in independent schools report receiving more than three quarters of work back. This compares with 27 per cent in the most advantaged state schools, and only eight per cent in the least advantaged state schools.

The research highlights how schools with different levels of affluence face different challenges during the crisis. It comes after the government announced a package of measures to ensure all pupils can access learning remotely, including through access to devices and Oak National Academy, an online classroom that provides video lessons and resources for pupils from reception to year 10.

To provide additional support to disadvantaged pupils, the Sutton Trust is recommending that high-quality online tuition is available for disadvantaged pupils, funded through a voucher scheme or through a network of quality-assured tutoring providers.

The Education Endowment Foundation, the Sutton Trust’s sister charity, will be providing direct support for schools through guidance and resources.

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust and chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “Despite the heroic efforts of teachers working in very difficult circumstances, pupils from poorer homes face a double disadvantage.  They have insufficient resources at home to support their learning and they are less likely to be able to access online classes.

“The widening of the attainment gap over these next few months threatens to have negative implications for years to come. It is crucial we do all we can to address inequalities through high quality tuition and access to technology.”

* Read the research report in full here

* Read  Implications of the Covid-19 crisis for educational inequality here

* The Sutton Trust https://www.suttontrust.com/

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