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  • Writer's pictureNatasha at Jacari

How we've responded to school closures

It's great news that schools are going to reopen to all pupils in March. However, we’re really concerned about the impact of the latest school closures on educational attainment of children with English as an additional language, who may already be months behind their peers after the spring 2020 lockdown.

The latest research on the impact of the pandemic on children’s education shows that disadvantaged children have fallen further behind in reading and maths. Ofsted also found that children who were hardest hit by school closures and restrictions have regressed in some basic skills and learning. These weren’t necessarily the most deprived children but those that lack good support structures at home or access to remote learning.

Children with English as an additional language (EAL) are particularly at risk of falling behind, with schools stretched to the limit and unable to provide extra support. When schools are closed or children are self-isolating at home, the language barrier coupled with limited access to technology means children with EAL often miss out on online learning. Moreover, children aren’t being exposed to the English language on a daily basis. A teacher from one of our partner schools recently told us:

“Due to school closures, many of our EAL learners are no longer immersed in the English language at school. We have definitely noticed when speaking to the children, their English has been massively affected. A child we spoke to recently was unable to recall simple vocabulary that he was more than capable of using a few months ago.”

Jacari tuition is more important than ever in helping children get back on track with their education. We currently have 145 active volunteers who are regularly tutoring children who have English as an additional language, helping them with school work and improving their language skills and confidence. This may be the only time children get to practise their English and socialise with someone outside their family so it is really helping to reduce isolation.

Ray Cheung, our Oxford Student Committee Co-President, told us:

"Tutoring during Covid has been very different, but it has remained fulfilling. I’ve used WhatsApp instead of going to my pupil’s house, but other tutors have used other approved platforms such as Google Meet to conduct lessons. It has been harder to do things like play games or do crafts, but everyone’s adapted really well to the new system. What hasn't changed even in these challenging times is the pupils' spirit - they have remained just as enthusiastic and we're equally eager to help them learn!"

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