There have been wide-spread reports in the media about the impacts on children during the covid19 school closures. Some reports have suggested that students have been heavily affected while others are suggesting that the impacts have not been as detrimental to our children’s educational progress.
With so many voices and opinions expressed it’s certainly hard to differentiate truth from fiction with regards to what’s happening with our children’s education and the actual impact of school closures.
According to a study by the university of newcastle the impacts have not been as bad as people are being led to believe on average.
But let’s break it down a little further to get a better understanding of who has and hasn’t been affected.
Schools are ranked on a scale called the ICSEA ( Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage) with the average school having a ranking of 1,000, top schools having a ranking of 1,300 and disadvantaged schools having a ranking of 900 or below. (the system allows for a 100 point deviation before dropping/rising into a new category)
Students who are from a higher ICSEA (1,100 – 1,300) school displayed no significant difference in performance from 2019 to 2020.
This means that the effects of remote learning haven’t really changed their academic performance and they are progressing as they should be in terms of hitting the national standards.
Students from mid ICSEA (900 – 1,000) schools were the equivalent of 8 weeks ahead of their cohorts in 2019. This means that compared with 2019 students, students in 2020 were 2 months more advanced in their academic goals.
However students from a low ICSEA school (100 – 900) were the ones who were suffering the most with a result of being 2 months behind where they were in 2019. This is on top of children from low ICSEA being an average of 1-3 years behind students from a high ICSEA school.
The biggest impact felt across the board however, was students’ mental health and wellbeing. With more anxiety and stress being reported, it’s evident the longer schools are closed and remote learning is active, the more potential for students to fall behind and need additional support.
The Commission for Children and Young People surveyed 644 children and young people after the first school closures and the overwhelming response was around stress and not being able to focus when it came to remote learning:
“I also felt a bit stressed. The teachers would put things on google classrooms and there was so much. I feel more comfortable around people. It was hard for me to get used to coping at home. My 2 brothers kept messing around so I had to close my door. It was hard for me to work in my space.” (Primary school student, aged 9, metro)
“I found it very distracting, especially in the first week. I could hardly do even one activity without going outside. Once we got more in the habit of doing it, it was still really distracting. There’s nothing forcing you to do it. At school they help you more. Your parents aren’t the same as your teachers.” (Primary school student, aged 9, metro)
“It was weird, confusing and hard doing stuff online.” (Primary school student, rural)
Although the impacts of COVID19 and remote learning hasn’t impacted the academic results our children were able to achieve on average as dramatically as some are reporting, it has definitely impacted our youth in Australia emotionally across the board.
Our most vulnerable have been impacted exponentially in both academics and mental health and will need ongoing support to help them close the now bigger gap to their more advantaged peers over the next few years as a direct result of COVID19 and remote learning.
The Youth Foundation is committed to delivering educational resources to disadvantaged youth throughout Australia and will assist in closing the gap between children as we believe every child deserves to succeed regardless of their current situation.
If you would like to support us in helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds please consider donating to our cause.
Any amount helps and just a $27 donation will help 1 child in need for an entire term of school and all donations over $2.00 are tax deductible