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How Has the Pandemic Affected Students?

It’s hard to believe that more than three years have flown by since the start of the COVID pandemic! For some, this was a time of quiet contemplation, and for others it was a period of intense stress, but either way, this global health crisis discombobulated our sense of time.

And to be completely honest? I started this blog believing two years had passed, not three!

Students during Covid

Surely, now that lockdowns, self-isolation, and support bubbles are mainly things of the past, we’ve come out the other side all the stronger? Well, not quite!

Multiple studies have shown the devastating impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had and continues to have not only on the mental health of students, but also their academic performance. Contrary to the expectation that students would be able to recover and close the gaps in learning, 2023 research from Oxford University noted that “worryingly...the children [we can observe] have largely been unable to recover these learning deficits”.

What lessons can we learn from this epidemic and how can we combat its ill effects? We’ve highlighted three key considerations:

Making the Most of Maths

Researchers across 42 studies from 15 countries found that, not only were children from lower socio-economic backgrounds more negatively impacted, but that there were larger gaps or ‘learning deficits’ in Maths learning than in reading. Studies suggest that this might be because (as a whole) parents are better equipped to help their children with reading - after all, it’s as simple as grabbing a book or even reading the news together!

Undoubtedly, for some parents, Maths and teaching your child Maths can feel daunting - after all, Maths anxiety is a very real stress that affects over a third of adults in the UK. I’ve spoken before about the importance of Maths in my previous blogs, here and here, highlighting just how to tackle those pesky Maths problems and how to make lessons fun and engaging. Framing Maths in a context besides sitting at a desk and solving sum after sum is very effective in reducing pressure and developing skills in a more relaxing environment.

Maths doesn’t have to be taught in a test setting: incorporating Maths here and there (even 15 minutes a day!) helps to consolidate knowledge. It also helps to remember that Maths is ALL around us and there are endless learning opportunities: from baking a cake and measuring the ingredients to simple counting and sowing seeds in the garden. Even if you’re really struggling to teach your child, a helping hand is not far from reach. Consider finding an experienced Maths tutor and speak to a member of our team to learn more.

Taking care of mental health

Focusing on Mental Health

What might prove to have the greatest impact on learning is a student’s mental well-being as the after-effects caused by the pandemic are still keenly felt. For those who are immunocompromised or have loved ones who are, the pandemic is a very present struggle. For others, uncertainty about the world we live in still looms large: will there be another pandemic in the future? How has this exacerbated the cost of living? Am I prepared enough to go to secondary school? University?

It’s important to balance these worries and learn how to best support your or your child’s mental well-being. We speak about how to get ready for uni life on our blog, and there are many resources available which offer ideas you can try:

Mind, a mental health charity, suggests ways to engage and promote positive contributions to tackle depression, including volunteer work and journaling. Mind also offers a helpline which you can dial to learn more about mental health problems and where best to find support.

Samaritans offers a long-standing service of listening and talking through your concerns. They offer this free-of-charge and are available 24/7, year-round. For more information, click here. CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) not only offers a helpline, but also a webchat service if preferred. They also provide handy guides covering a wide range of issues, from bullying to anxiety.

Embedding Learning Opportunities

It might be tempting to make up for lost time by going through practice paper after practice paper, but academic burnout can be a major cause of stress and ultimately does more harm than good.

Interestingly, studies show that “even relatively low-tech and low-cost learning interventions can have substantial, positive effects on students’ learning progress”. In other parts of the world, SMS messages with numeracy problems accompanied by short phone calls lead to substantial learning gains in numeracy in Botswana whilst motivational text messages successfully limited learning losses in Brazil.

Other ideas to boost learning opportunities can include finding a tutor during the summer, enrolling in learning camps, downloading learning apps, or even watching an educational TV programme. Your local library or community center will most likely offer a variety of engaging activities and one-to-one parent support.


Blog Post Crafted by Cheryl

Cheryl manages our Admin Team, and is a qualified teacher with 5 years' experience in schools across England and Canada.

Cheryl graduated from McMaster University with an Honours Bachelor of Commerce and a Minor in English, and from University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Education, with a specialisation in Aboriginal Studies. She tutored secondary school students in English for over nine years in Canada.

Cheryl speaks Cantonese, English and French, and in her spare time, she can be found illustrating and reading children’s books for inspiration.


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