Teachers today warned that it will take pupils more than 18 months for them to catch up after they have fallen behind in their education due to Covid.

A survey of 4610 teachers across England found that state school teachers had a higher likelihood to provide a negative outlook than those working in private schools. This was according to Bett, a leading EdTech conference.

This study revealed that only 14% and 23% of private school primary teachers had seen students fall behind as a result of closing schools or Covid-related absenteeisms.

Private secondary school teachers believed their students would catch-up in 6 months. Only three percent of teachers at state schools believed their pupils hadn’t fallen behind, while 19% thought the same in private schools.

Partly, this could be due to private schools adapting quicker to online learning by giving students laptops. 

State school teachers were far more likely to offer a gloomy forecast compared to their private school counterparts

State school teachers are more likely than private school colleagues to forecast the worst.

36 percent of state-school primary teachers believed it would take students 18 months to catch up. 32 percent of secondary school teachers agreed.

Classroom teachers generally were less optimistic than either headteachers (SLT) or senior leaders.

32% of coalface teachers thought that it would take at least 18 months, as opposed to 31% of those who did SLT or 28% of the heads.

The most pessimistic teachers of language and Key Stage 2 were those who believed that it would take over 18 months. 

It also emerged that nearly four in ten – 38 per cent – of teachers agree or strongly agree with banning school closures and classing them as ‘essential infrastructure’.

Rob Halfon, a senior Tory MP, is proposing the change. Halfon chairs the education select committee and wants school closures banned unless they have been voted for by parliament.

Mr Halfon has put forward a Private Members’ bill to argue the case, saying that school closures and lockdowns had led to massive gaps in learning and to a safeguarding crisis.

Many teachers are still uncertain about the ban. 29% of them said they weren’t sure if they supported it.

The ban was opposed by slightly fewer teachers, 20% disapproving and 10% strongly disagreeing.

The majority of primary school teachers were slightly more supportive of schools remaining open. 39% agreed or strongly agreed with future closures.

Secondary school teachers voted for a ban on closing schools, with 39% agreeing or strongly agreeing. 27% disagreed or strongly opposed.

It was clearest that the divide was between private and state schools.

Private schools were significantly more likely to wish to remain open, with 25% strongly supporting it, compared to 15% for the state.

Overall, 48% of private school teachers supported the ban, while 37% in the state sector supported it.

Private primaries were strongly in favour of Mr Halfon’s proposals by 53 per cent compared to state primaries on 38 per cent.

Only 37% of secondary school teachers supported the ban, compared with nearly 50% – 48% – for private schools.

34% of state secondary teachers opposed the ban, while 23% disagreed or strongly disagreed.

A majority of private secondary school teachers thought their pupils would catch up within 6 months

The majority of secondary school teachers in private schools believed that their students would catch-up within six months

Only 20% opposed it in private primaries, compared to 28% for state primaries.

A second 23 percent of teachers from private schools agreed to the closure ban, compared with 22 percent of those in state schools.

The majority of headteachers supported keeping schools open, with 42% strongly agreeing to or agreeing with it. This compares with only 35% of classroom teachers.

Regional variations were also present, with London schools being most supportive of closing down schools – 40% vs 31% in the East.

Teachers in East England were a third against or strongly opposed to school closings. That figure is 35% in London; 35% in Midlands; 31% in London; 36% in London and 31 percent in North West; 32% each in South East and South East.

Schools rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted were the most likely to want to stay open – with 38 per cent supporting the proposed ban compared to 34 per cent of schools rated as ‘Good’ and 33 per cent of schools rated as ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’.

Eve Harper (director of Bett), who ordered the study, stated: “Our survey clearly shows that teachers are concerned about the fact that the learning gap is growing since the pandemic. Teachers are more concerned that Covid will not catch up in 18 months.

“There’s also a sharp difference between how long it takes for state school teachers to help pupils recover their lost learning, and what private school teachers are able to do.

“Education Technology has played a pivotal role in remote learning. However, it’s clear that educators have a lot to do. Teachers must feel valued and supported.