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The Continued Experiment: What we know about the lifting of lockdown in England's schools

22 June 2020

Schools continue to be a great experiment in which we send (almost) everyone home for a few months and then let everyone back in, at a much lower rate, and see what happens. We know from last week’s blog that schools are emerging from lockdown in different ways. In fact, the ways are so different that it’s hard to ask Teacher Tapp questions that cover all options! Thank you for your patience if you’re having to answer ‘none of the above’ more than usual at present. We will get there eventually!

1. What is happening in secondary schools?

Last week we learned that secondaries are using a diverse range of approaches to get year 10s back into school. And some students are being invited to return more than others. This week we asked how many times a student who is struggling with home learning would be in, compared to a student doing fine studying at home. Around 1-in-10 teachers said their school had a group of Year 10s who were coming in every single day.

The chart below shows how many schools are varying the amount of time students spend in school according to their ability to learn well at home. Around 20% of schools are asking most Year 10s to come back this term just once or twice. The majority of these schools (59%) are not asking ANY students to come in more frequently. In the one-third of schools who are getting Year 10s in about once a week until the end of term, three-quarters of these are again not asking any students in more frequently.

Secondaries with sixth forms also have Year 12s back in school. Their patterns of return are even more irregular! Schools with sixth forms in the more deprived areas are more likely to have Year 12s back in at least twice a week, but are also more likely to continue having them studying at home.

2. What about primary schools?

Many primary schools have now completed three weeks of returned school with Years R, 1 and 6. The graph below shows which year groups were in attendance for different parts of the countries. The light green shows the start of the month, then dark green is week 2 and the purple is last week.

In some areas the percentage of schools opening up for extra year groups has expanded week on week. For example, in Yorkshire and the North East, only around 30% of schools opened for extra year groups at the start of June, but by last week that number was around 60%. The re-opening of the North West remains slow.

Many parents have been slow to return their students to school, even where a Year Group has re-opened. The chart below shows the student return rates for the schools who re-opened first. In fee-paying and the most affluent primaries, at least 2-in-3 students are back; in the highest FSM primaries, most have only half (or fewer) of children from relevant year groups back. Unfortunately, it looks like these social differences become more pronounced as each week passes.

Those of you who followed the DfE guidelines on the school return will be struggling to make any space for students from Years 2-5 to return to school at all. Well over half of primaries won’t be making any in-school provision for these year groups.

There are stark regional differences in June/July provision for Years 2 to 5. Perhaps it is no surprise that the North West is least likely to see these students before the end of term since many schools in this region have not re-opened to any Year Groups yet.

3, Finally, we know you like the daily reads on the app. So here are last week’s tips…