Education boss reveals remote learning left Hackney’s disadvantaged kids behind

More than 10,000 pupils at Norfolk schools have benefitted from government Covid laptop and tablet scheme.

Remote learning has meant some Hackney students have fallen behind in motor-skills and problem-solving abilities. - Credit: PA

Remote learning left Hackney’s most disadvantaged kids with underdeveloped motor skills and reduced problem-solving abilities, a top council education official has revealed.

Stephen Hall, assistant director for school standards and improvement at Hackney Council, told members that teachers have a “big bit of work” ahead to claw back lost ground.

Speaking at a children and young people scrutiny meeting, he warned that an “attainment gap” would continue to grow if it goes unaddressed.

But he insisted that the numbers were “much smaller than we were concerned about” – and said a decision to widen criteria for pupils attending school in the second lockdown helped those “struggling to work at home”.

He said: “In terms of pupils returning to school and then going back out again and then going back in, it’s obviously really disrupted their learning.

“That’s impacted those pupils who don’t have regular access from home or that support from home, that you would want to an easy study space.

Mr Hall said remote learning meant there were "limited opportunities" for practical science and physical subjects such as PE, adding that young pupils in particular had struggled with writing and fine motor skills having written less at home. 

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Early years and KS1 pupils' oracy had also suffered as well as problem-solving skills for older students learning mathematics.

The assistant director also expressed concern over younger pupils missing opportunities to socialise. 

Mr Hall added: “It’s fair to say that the attainment gap won’t have shrunk, it may have stayed the same but it may have grown.

“We’re going to have a big piece of work to regain that lost ground for disadvantaged groups and those who traditionally don’t perform as well.”

The warning came just days after a Department for Education study revealed that pupils lost out on two months’ worth of reading and three of maths during the pandemic.

The government later unveiled a £1.4bn package to support education recovery over the next three years.

But the figure – which works out as little more than £50 per pupil – was dismissed as a “low cost option” by teaching unions.