Children will have fallen behind in their work during lock down and a catch up needs to be effected by a battalion of 100,000 tutors.
Those from disadvantaged and rural backgrounds will have fallen behind further and these students are likely to have lost a month of learning on average during the six-to-nine weeks of school closures in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, and the ACT.
A new Grattan Institute report says Australia should launch a $1 billion, six-month tutoring blitz to help 1 million disadvantaged school students recover learning lost during the COVID-19 lockdowns
About 1 million disadvantaged students should attend tutoring sessions three-to-five times a week for up to three months, in groups of about three, either during regular school hours or before or after school.
Done well, these sessions could boost their learning by five months between now and the end of the year.
The tutors should be drawn from teachers and teacher aides who work part-time, but especially from young university graduates and pre-service teachers, who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 job and income losses.
Most tutors would work about eight hours a week. They could earn up to $6,300 over the six months.
The tutoring blitz would cost about $1 billion, but the benefits to the economy would be much larger. The young tutors would have extra income during the recession, and would be likely to spend it quickly, helping stimulate the economy between now and Christmas. And disadvantaged students who gained extra learning would earn more over their lifetime, boosting the economy in years to come.
The report also recommends governments spend $70 million expanding successful literacy and numeracy programs, especially for students in the early years, and $30 million on trials of ‘targeted teaching’ and extra support for student well-being.
“Our schools, teachers, and students adapted remarkably well when the COVID-19 crisis forced them to switch almost overnight to remote learning,” lead author and Grattan Institute Education Fellow Dr Julie Sonnemann said.
“But this report shows that most students did not learn as much while at home as they would have in their classroom – and disadvantaged students were hardest hit.
“Our tutoring blitz plan is a win-win-win: the tutors get extra income, the economy gets extra stimulus and, most importantly, our disadvantaged students get the chance for a better life.”