Bridging Gaps- Addressing educational inequalities for disadvantaged children and the social isolation of university students

National lockdowns that are vital for stopping the spread of coronavirus have presented a challenge for education. With schooling still needing to be provided we have had to implement online learning tools. However, without the school environment, which provides a universal opportunity to learn with the same resources and working conditions, individual disparities between families have led to gaps. As a result, socioeconomic inequalities are more pressing with homeschooling and this a pressing challenge for those most disadvantaged in our society. In the UK, 28% of school children are classed as ‘disadvantaged’ and this sees them leave school on average 18 months behind. COVID has widened this gap by a drastic 75%.Key workers children are especially disadvantaged, as these children lack access to support with their homework and homeschool tasks. Gaps in educational attainment are likely to manifest during national lockdowns. Higher education has also dramatically changed in the context of lockdowns and social distancing measures. University students have witnessed high levels of social isolation, with many of them not having had any in-person learning the entire academic year. This has undeniably had a knock on effect on their mental health, recognised with the recent appointment of Dr Alex George as the government’s youth mental health ambassador. There is the opportunity to link both of these groups together in a way that becomes mutually beneficial, which would build community links and bridge gaps in demand for extra support for school children. This would serve to boost university students’ own prospects, giving them motivation knowing they are helping in some way and doing something rewarding in their local community despite the pandemic’s disruptions. This opportunity would especially useful for people looking to go on to work in the social service sector or in any roles with young people.




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