Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education, Thomas Byrne has warned that recent UK research indicates that school closures may have had an even greater impact on education than first though.

Deputy Byrne said it is reasonable to assume the outcomes of the study, Schoolwork in Lockdown: New Evidence on the Epidemic of Educational Poverty, would similarly apply to Irish students.

The study indicates that pupils are only learning for 2.5 hours per day at home. This is approximately half the time previously reported. While Irish research is less developed, it has indicated that many younger students are learning for just 2 hours or less per day.

Deputy Byrne commented, “There has been some commentary in recent weeks about the benefits that have been gained from school closures. Time spent with family is of great value, but we have to be absolutely clear that this is coming at the expense of educational development.

“While Irish research is limited by comparison with the United Kingdom, we know that the evidence which is emerging is that pupils working from home are doing less learning than was previously thought.

“The limited data which is available through the The Play and Learning in Early Years Survey in Ireland indicates the vast majority of respondents engaged in 2 hours or less of learning per day between the age of 6 and 10. That is nowhere near where it needs to be.

“We also know that the UK data indicates that this is on average even worse for pupils from lower income areas. It is reasonable to assume that the same is happening here.

“This “educational poverty” as it has been described could have serious long-term consequences if there is not a concerted effort to address it in the medium and long term. While the Summer Education Programme is welcome and needed, it is only a start when compared to the dozens of hours which have been missed.

“I absolutely accept that parents, many of whom are trying to work from home themselves, simply are not able to provide home-schooling akin to that of the classroom. A concerted effort will be needed to ensure that the supports are in place to allow pupils to catch up on what has been lost.