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Covid-19 school closures ‘could cost pupils £40,000 in lifetime earnings’

Education: Secondary / Mon 1st Feb 2021 at 09:55am

PUPILS in the UK could stand to lose an average of £40,000 each in lifetime earnings from the effects of Covid-hit school closures, a report suggests reports the BBC.

Any effects are likely to be concentrated among children from disadvantaged backgrounds, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said. 

Parent groups say the four UK nations must “do more… to avoid a generation of children being left behind”.

The IFS says the £1.5bn invested so far in “catch up” services is not enough.

The leading economic research group said “there is much that is good” with the plans to help pupils being put in place across the UK but the funding allocated to date was “tiny in comparison with the scale of problem”.

UK schools are currently closed to pupils other than children of key workers and those classified as vulnerable in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus.

By mid-February, children will have lost half an academic year – as much as 5% of their school career – in learning time. 

The IFS says its report contains an “illustration, rather than a precise prediction” of what could happen.

But it suggests that despite remote learning, some children may leave school with fewer or poorer qualifications. 

The IFS says the reduction in face-to-face teaching could potentially result in a total of £350bn in lost lifetime earnings for the UK’s 8.7m schoolchildren, adding this would hit future tax revenues.

The institute refers to findings by the World Bank that a year of schooling increases an individual’s earnings by an average of 8% a year in an advanced economy such as the UK.

For anyone earning the average yearly wage in the UK, the IFS estimates, this would translate to a potential £40,000 loss in income across a lifetime, leading it to warn that “the long-run costs of the pandemic will fall disproportionately on today’s children”.

The IFS says even if “much weaker assumptions” are made, there could still be £90bn in lost lifetime earnings.

The Department for Education has pledged an extra £300m in the next financial year for catch-up services in England, in addition to its existing funding allocation of £1bn.

A DfE spokesperson said “the prime minister was clear last week that extended schools closures have had a huge impact on pupils learning, which will take more than a year to make up.

“The government will work with parents, teachers and schools to develop a long term plan to make sure pupils have the chance to make up their learning over the course of this parliament.”

The National Tutoring Programme helped almost 70,000 children in England during the autumn term and will benefit from a portion of the additional government funding to assist disadvantaged pupils.

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