The social gulf between state and private schools has been widened by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the educational experiences undertaken by pupils proving to be incredibly different.
Private schools could be seen to be at an advantage over state schools during the pandemic.
Many state schools may have a lack of funds to give children a positive home-learning experience.
According to a study by the London School of Economics, around 75% of private schools have been providing a full daily timetable of stay-at-home lessons during the pandemic.
Whilst only 38% of public schools have been able to match this.
The same study showed over 2.5 million state school students received zero hours of learning during the first 2020 lockdown, putting them at a huge disadvantage compared to others in the same age group.
An article by The Guardian explained the demand for private school places has risen by a staggering 20-30%, as parents desperately try to secure their children the best chance of a normal education during such uncertain times.
Shirley Bouwer is the Director of Studies at St Joseph’s College, Reading.
She has witnessed first hand the advantages held by private schools during the pandemic.
Speaking to BUzz News, she said: “We are running our full, normal timetable in all year groups from juniors upwards.
“Pupils join an online form group in the morning, and they go to all their usual lessons with their usual teachers.”
“We have had to modify the tasks we assign so that they are not glued to a PC from 8:20-3:40, but they do have live teaching for every lesson. We are even delivering virtual assemblies via livestream or pre-recorded videos,” she added.
“We are aware that this is not the case in some state schools, and our pupils are fortunate that they have not missed any learning.
“There was definitely an uptick in enquiries during the summer term and into September, and our pupil roll did increase as a result.
However we are also under pressure from current parents to ensure that we’re offering a full timetable and the usual quality of teaching as they are paying for the service, and so we have an obligation to deliver.”
Private schools typically have deeper pockets, perhaps ensuring they are able to provide more protection for returning pupils.
For example, they have the sufficient purchase Covid safe equipment.
“In terms of cleaning and social distancing measures, the school has gone beyond what is required by the guidelines.
“Rooms which are used by multiple year groups bubbles are completely sanitised down in between, and we’re able to dedicate a section of the school to each year-group bubble so there is no crossover in non-specialist lessons.
“The whole school was fogged every evening, so rooms were cleaned and ready for use in the morning, and as a result we were able to run almost as normal through most of the autumn term, and infections at the school were at a minimum.
“State schools with limited classrooms would not have been able to do the same.”
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