Schools can now do their own NAPLAN tests as experts call for action after weeks of remote learning.
Schools can now do their own NAPLAN tests as experts call for action after weeks of remote learning.

Experts want catch-up education sessions for kids

The 'lost learning' of primary students must be made up, according to experts who are urging state governments to act urgently.

The call for interventions comes in the same week students would have been sitting down for their NAPLAN exams and News Corp understands the national curriculum body ACARA has been approached by schools to help them track their students, given the controversial tests have been cancelled for this year.

It is crucial to track student progress, particularly for primary school students to ensure they are not missing key concepts.
It is crucial to track student progress, particularly for primary school students to ensure they are not missing key concepts.

While many state governments have been vocal about their opposition to NAPLAN, schools have asked for a substitute and ACARA have now, for the first time, uploaded questions and answers to NAPLAN assessments on their website so schools can determine where their students sit on the NAPLAN scale.

Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the Department of Education has also written to school authorities about monitoring students with progress reports for Semester One rather than the standard report cards but that it was on an opt-in basis.

Australian Catholic University's Associate Professor Miriam Tanti said it was a "no-brainer" that some sort of diagnostic tool was going to be needed.

"Teachers need time so they can develop a personalised intervention plan for students."

Assoc Professor Tanti said teachers have a range of tools they need to assess students but would need dedicated time to spend with each student - especially given every child would have had a different home learning experience.

She said as schools start to return to normal teaching every teacher should have "one day minimum" relief from face-to-face teaching every week to spend with students.

"The degree of that learning from home would have varied significantly between homes, between schools, between suburbs. So I think it's really important that teachers now establish a starting point."

Blaise Joseph, Education Research Fellow at The Centre for Independent Studies, said it is crucial to track student progress, particularly for primary school students to ensure they are not missing key concepts.

"The general expectation is that school is for the whole year so it is common sense that it is going to have some sort of impact.

"Especially with the absence of NAPLAN, it's really important that we track student progress as they come back to school to ensure that students haven't fallen behind in the meantime," he said.

"This is especially important issue for students in the early years of school, because a period of a month or two, when you're trying to learn basic literacy and numeracy in those early years, can be really essential. And if you fall behind early on, it can be a lot harder to catch up later."

Opposition education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said schools needed extra funding so teachers can identify students who've fallen behind and help them catch up.

"If we don't get young kids up to speed quickly, they could be stuck behind for the rest of their school days - that'd be a disaster."

There is already a significant inequity in Australian education between students but without school as a 'leveller' many agencies are worried about the impact on vulnerable children who may not have support for home learning.

World Vision's child rights spokesperson Mercy Jumo said experiences of learning at home can vary hugely: "Parents and carers have had very different levels of time, skill, technology and capability to support children to learn during lockdowns."

Rosemary Conn Chief Executive Officer, Australian Schools Plus, agreed and said it could be the tipping point for many students unless governments intervened.

"We need to ensure teachers have the time, resources and skills to give these students additional help and support when they return to school, so they have a fighting chance of success."

As part of our 'Top Teachers' campaign, News Corp is calling on governments to be clear about the transition and detail what resources teachers will receive so they can roll out catch up education programs to see how much work students have missed.

Parents and students across the country are also submitting their entries for their 'top teacher' where families are nominating a teacher who has gone above and beyond for their students during these challenging times.

Originally published as 'Lost learning': Fears kids will slip through cracks



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