PUPILS across Wales have lost out on a third of their learning time amid COVID-19 – even when home lessons are taken into account, a study suggests.

Researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of Exeter found that the poorest pupils suffered larger learning losses than their richer peers amid the pandemic.

Considering learning undertaken at home and in the classroom, the analysis suggests pupils in Wales on average lost 66 days of schooling between March 2020 and April 2021.

This takes into account that the usual school year is made up of 190 days.

Wales fared the worst out of the four UK nations by a few days. The average losses that occurred in England and Northern Ireland both stand at 61 days, whilst Scottish pupils lost 64 days.

Researchers calculated the education loss by assessing school opening and closure dates, official school attendance figures, and data on daily learning rates (combining home and classroom learning) reported by parents.

Lee Elliot Major, professor of social mobility at the University of Exeter and report co-author, said: “Our analysis reveals that pupils’ learning loss varies between the four home nations, partly due to historical differences in school term times and partly as a result of school closure policies.

“This shows that ministers can make a difference – but quick action is needed.”

LSE professor Stephen Machin, CEP director and co-author of the report, added: “Even a few days extra learning loss can have a large impact on educational achievement and life outcomes, and these are big losses of around 60-65 days.

“Learning losses suffered during the pandemic are manifested in stark gaps in attainment between children from poorer backgrounds and their more privileged counterparts, which is likely to cause a significant decline in social mobility for younger generations.”

Rhyl Journal: Education and Welsh Language Minister, Jeremy Miles, visits Ysgol Santes Tudful, Merthyr Tydfil.

Education and Welsh Language Minister, Jeremy Miles was appointed to the role in the latest cabinet reshuffle.

Current rules in the UK state that children have to self-isolate for 10 days if another pupil in their bubble – which can be an entire year group at secondary school – tests positive for coronavirus.

However in Wales, the recently appointed education minister - Jeremy Miles - said there was a need for a “more localised approach rather than a blanket approach”, with interventions based on the prevalence of the virus in particular communities.

A “national framework” will be published by the Welsh Government to guide education settings in easing or escalating rules depending on a low, medium, or high risk of harm to learners and staff when they return in September.

All Welsh schools, colleges and universities currently follow set national guidance, despite the number of Covid-19 cases in the country varying between regions.

A Welsh Government spokesperson added: “Since launching our Renew and Reform plan for education in June, we have made clear our aim to ensure every learner - particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds - gets the support they need as they take their next steps in education, with a clear focus on their wellbeing and needs.

“To that end, we have invested more than £150m in education and wider support this financial year.”