Government must protect education gains during lockdown

Cllr Rabina Khan has called on the government to prepare a strategy to address the disproportionate educational impact the COVID-19 lockdown has had on BAME and disadvantaged households.

Writing for Operation Black Vote, Cllr Khan notes the strong progress in educational attainment achieved in East London in recent decades:

In 1997, Tower Hamlets was ranked last amongst 149 local authorities for educational achievement, with only 26 percent of students attaining five or more GCSEs at grades A*-C, significantly lower than the national average of 43 percent at the time. Our neighbouring boroughs have not fared well in the past either. In 2002, Hackney’s Key Stage 2 results were the worst in the country, and less than a third of students achieved five or more GCSEs at grades A*-C. Similarly, Newham used to be among the lower performing quarter of boroughs.

Over two decades later, these boroughs have seen the steady increase of achievement of children from Black and Ethnic Minority Communities. Furthermore, by 2013, among pupils entitled to free school meals (FSM), all ethnic minority groups were outperforming white working class pupils in terms of attainment at age 16, based on the percentage attaining five or more GCSEs at grades A*-C, including English and mathematics.

Cllr Khan notes that these gains are fragile, and rely on the system of support built up around the schools in these boroughs. Now that affected students are cut off from their schools, and many will be locked down in conditions not conducive to home schooling, they are now at increased risk of falling behind:

However, under the COVID-19 lockdown, I was not surprised when mothers of Black and Ethnic Minority communities contacted me about the difficulties of home schooling their children in cramped conditions. This means that many children – who are already at risk of falling behind educationally – may subsequently be at even greater risk of failing to meet targets once the lockdown measures have been lifted. The government needs to prepare a strategy to ensure that these disadvantaged children do not fall even further behind in their education and are given the support they need to fulfil their potential.

Read the full article here.

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