UK, shortage of students from less affluent families is growing: devastating effects of lockdowns

Development, in human and social geography, is a series of processes aimed at improving the quality of life and promoting well-being on a large scale. The darker side of these dynamics is represented by differentiation and the models you adhere to over time. Relative poverty—sometimes absolute or moderate—can be seen not only from known indicators (GDP per capita, for example) but also from the performance of students from disadvantaged families or in precarious economic situations. On the other hand, economic and social indicators mentioned only in some technical disciplines and institutional reports are useful. The human development index (HDI) is associated not only with the GDP and life expectancy of the population, but also with the level of literacy and early school leaving, as well as with the level of gender and fair and sustainable development. The United Kingdom, especially in rural and peripheral areas, is experiencing a profound qualitative decline in these indicators and a serious increase – which violates the stability of the social fabric – in the Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality in a given area. All of this has a direct impact on students and their academic performance.

Gorrard’s innovative research: development, segregation, location, and school

Several chapters of scholarly work sponsored by ministry and government agencies examine the extent to which disadvantaged pupils are crammed into schools over the long term more than their peers. In the annex, it shows all the performance trends of primary schools before the pandemic and the economic emergency caused by hyperinflation and compares them with those that followed, indicating the most important aspects, as well as with regard to the sharp decline (about 10%) in funding allocated to school and education. The gap between affluent and less affluent students increased in 2015, due to curriculum changes, but since 2016, the gap has started to decrease again at another stage (from 7 to 11 years old). It is difficult to compare the gap in results after 2019 with those before it, given the interruption in testing due to the COVID-19 shutdown, but the effects of the shutdown, the research confirms, have been devastating. Productivity in core disciplines decreases by about 30% for students from less affluent families, according to recent reports and personalized tests administered to girls and boys to compare the economic gap with the cultural gap. Significant deficiencies in mathematics, logical arithmetic, reading comprehension and English language.

Intercom problems?

One way to reduce this social segregation—and thus the achievement gap—is to reduce the variety of different types of schools, according to the report and the research cited. There is a great variety of institutes, colleges and secondary schools in England. The latter selects students on the basis of ability, which is linked to social background and – often – their ability to pay handsomely for workshops and extra-curricular activities. Yeshivas chosen by religion, often associated with race. There are also private, educational, foundation, specialist, and community schools, as well as the university’s colleges and technical academies. Each classification can lead to different points of view, and thus lead to segregation in unknown directions. All of these schools can be progressively included in a national system for local approval of all skills and competencies deemed essential by the Ministry. Students will still be able to receive additional support or customized interventions within these institutions.

Earl Warner

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