Three top tips on helping disadvantaged children catch up  

Holly Carlyle
Thursday, July 9, 2020

Many children have lost out on education during the pandemic with experts raising fears that it has widened the attainment gap for disadvantaged groups.

Some campaigners have called for a catch-up programme during the summer holidays so that disadvantaged children do not return to school in September too far behind. Here, Holly Carlyle offers three top tips on how to best support the remote online learning of disadvantaged children.

  • A safe environment

The most important first step when providing young people, especially more vulnerable pupils, with online learning provisions is creating a completely safe environment. They need to have the freedom to explore a subject themselves, without encountering adult or dangerous content that could upset or harm them. This should not mean limiting them, they should still have a broad range of content to access so they can delve as far into a subject as they like.

Additionally, the content must be curated and checked by professional editors. Incorrect or deliberately false information can be incredibly harmful to a child’s learning progression, even more so if they are vulnerable.

  • Mixed-media content

Young people learn in a multitude of different ways and as such need access to multiple different media when learning. Whilst reading text is an important part of the learning process it can be incredibly frustrating for diverse learners if this is the sole format of content.

By including audio and video into your remote learning content you are ensuring that you are catering to each student rather than simply to one style of learner. This is critical, as students need to be kept engaged, and if they are struggling to connect with the content on offer it is unlikely that they will be, which will in turn affect their learning.

  • Literacy tools

Resources which also include literacy tools such as a ‘read aloud’ function and translation tool can support learners of all abilities and needs. Disadvantaged children may have often undergone a lot of challenges, and as a result their learning and progress can be affected; it is important to utilise literacy tools to enable them to access content and catch up independently. It can be quite daunting having to consistently ask for help, if tools like a ‘read aloud’ function are provided to young people they have the freedom to instruct themselves and build their self-confidence, whilst having equal access to the same content as their peers.

This is essential to help those with any learning challenges and to provide some structure and stability, enabling students to maintain their progress and development.

Learning resources which offer curriculum-aligned content using various trustworthy videos, images and audio all within the platform, give students the freedom to explore resources and have fun without fear of encountering unsafe internet content. This will ensure that they are fully supported in their learning and able to build their independent learning skills, helping to maintain their natural curiosity and spark a true love of learning.

Holly Carlyle is curriculum specialist at Britannica

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