How Has Covid-19 Impacted Educational Inequality?

Written by Calvin Bowers

In this blog, we will be exploring how disadvantaged children have felt the effects of the pandemic in a much greater way than their peers. In order to recognise how Covid-19 has exacerbated educational inequality.

The impact of Covid-19 has been widespread through every age group and every community across the UK. Different people have had to face different challenges, some of which will have lasting effects long after the pandemic. Unfortunately, one of those groups of people is children and students.

With six months of school closure in the first wave of the pandemic, uncertainty and self-isolation in the autumn term, to another bout of closed schools in early 2021, this has been an immensely turbulent and uncertain year for students. The children and young people who previously had the most barriers to overcome, disproportionally feel its effects most intensely. Covid-19 has exacerbated educational inequality, leaving students who already had a disadvantage, even further behind more privileged students.

How Has Covid-19 Impacted Educational Inequality?

  • Switch to online learning 

Teachers have had to rely on online learning throughout both school closures to ensure that students don’t fall behind. However, online learning requires access to expensive and reliable technology such as laptops or computer, tablets, mobile data or Wi-Fi.

Meaning those students who aren’t in a financial position to buy and own these items, were left unable to participate in school immediately. The Sutton Trust recently reported that 34% of parents with children aged 5-16 said their children did not have access to their own laptop or computer.

  • Access to an appropriate place to learn 

To focus on schoolwork while at home, it’s essential that students have access to a quiet space in their house. For those students who live in smaller houses, or share their bedroom with family members, this has not been as easy.

Many students live with their parents, grandparents, siblings and wider family members, who may all be working from home. This lack of space is having a clear impact on students’ ability to engage in online learning.

  • Parents who can’t work from home 

It’s easy to forget that not everybody has the luxury of working from home through the pandemic. While many people going out to work are doing so because they work in the health profession, those who work in low-paid, manual jobs have also not been able to stay at home. For example, cleaners, construction workers, shop owners, transport workers, rubbish collectors etc. have continued to work throughout the pandemic.

This means that children whose parents work in these lower-paid industries are at greater risk of Covid-19. This could lead to missing school or dealing with the psychological effects of having an ill parent.

  • No respite for children who live in unsafe or unsupportive homes 

For those children who live in unsafe or supportive homes, the pandemic has removed the respite of school, friends and other family members. Children who may be at risk of abuse or neglect have had no opportunity to seek support and safety, because of the three UK National Lockdowns. This may have caused emotional and psychological distress for children and students, resulting in a lack of attention and focus on school work.

If you are a university student who has been impacted by Covid-19, find tips and support on our blog.

Last Updated: Tuesday February 23 2021
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