There’s no denying that the need for home schooling has placed an additional ‘burden’ of responsibility on parents as well as impacting dramatically upon children’s social life and learning.
While most schools have sought to reassure families that there is no expectation to deliver the curriculum as though every parent was a qualified teacher, there are concerns that disruption to normal lessons may have long-term consequences for affected children, potentially leading to increased levels of inequality in educational attainment.
In simple terms, as explained by Sam Sims (a Research Fellow at UCL); when people don’t go to school, they don’t learn as much, and the longer they’re not at school for, the more they don’t learn. It may be impossible to gauge precisely how much each child is learning in lockdown, but according to survey data from teacher polling app, the Sutton Trust and Teacher Tapp, some children are adhering to a strict nine-to-three timetable. Conversely, others are receiving just one hour of home learning per day which is associated with a drop-off in work quality, and the suggestion is that this limited schedule may have far-reaching consequences.
According to Lisa Gibbs at the University of Melbourne; while children might get back on track with their capacity to learn once schools re-open, often they’re not catching up in terms of where they’re at academically, and consequently you see a changed academic pathway that may have life-long implications.
So, to prevent that scenario, how long should the ideal homeschooling ‘day’ last? Joint guidance from teaching unions recommends around three hours of structured, ability appropriate education-which is considered to be a realistic expectation. In theory at least, this provides sufficient opportunity for pupils to maintain academic progress and still enjoy downtime while parents then turn their attention to numerous other tasks.