Extra classroom time may do little to help pupils recover lost learning after COVID-19

Adding extra classroom time to the school day may only result in marginal gains for pupils who have lost learning during the COVID pandemic, a study says.

  School  Credit: Jeswin Thomas via Unsplash

The University of Cambridge analysis used five years of Government data, collected from more than 2,800 schools in England, to estimate the likely impact of additional classroom instruction on academic progress, as measured at GCSE.

It found that even substantial increases in classroom teaching time would likely only lead to small improvements. For example, extending Year 11 pupils’ classroom time by one hour per class, in English or maths, was associated with an increase of 0.12 and 0.18 in a school’s ‘value-added’ score – a standard progress measure. This increase appears small, considering that most of the schools in the study had scores ranging between 994 and 1006.

The research also investigated the likely impact for disadvantaged pupils, whose education has been hardest hit by school closures. In keeping with the overall results, it again found that more of the same teaching was likely to do relatively little to improve academic outcomes.

The study was undertaken by Vaughan Connolly, a doctoral researcher at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. His paper reporting the findings, published in the London Review of Education, suggests that long-term plans to recoup lost learning may be better off focusing on maximising the value of the existing school day, rather than extending it.

“Simply keeping all students in school for longer, in order to do more maths or more English, probably won’t improve results much; nor is it likely to narrow the attainment gap for those who have missed out the most,” Connolly said.

“This evidence suggests that re-evaluating how time is used in schools – for example, by trimming subject time and replacing it with sessions focusing on ‘learning to learn’ skills – could make a bigger difference. Quality is going to matter much more than quantity in the long run.”

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Image: School

Credit: Jeswin Thomas via Unsplash

Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge

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