Protracted school closures could cost British children £40,000 ($54,795) in lost earnings, a report has warned.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies called on the UK government to consider making pupils repeat a year, lengthening school days, or cutting down on holidays to make up for lost time in the classroom.
Children will have lost half an academic year - as much as 5 per cent of their school career – in learning time by mid-February.
The institute’s report said the loss of six months’ learning could cost pupils £40,000 in lost earnings over their lifetime, equating to £350 billion in lost earnings for all of the UK’s 8.7 million schoolchildren.
The effects of lost learning are most likely to be felt by children in poorer families, the institute said.
So far, about £1.5 billion has been allocated towards catch-up support for pupils, but that figure pales in comparison to the £30 billion spent on normal day-to-day school expenditure over six months.
Campaigners have called on the government to commit more to catch-up learning for pupils.
The IFS suggested that online learning is not adequate, particularly for students from disadvantaged backgrounds who may not have access to technology.
“Without significant remedial action, lost learning will translate into reduced productivity, lower incomes, lower tax revenues, higher inequality and potentially expensive social ills,” the institute said.
“The lack of urgency or national debate on how to address this problem is deeply worrying.
“The necessary responses are likely to be complex, hard and expensive. But the risks of spending ‘too much’ time or resources on this issue are far smaller than the risks of spending too little and letting lower skills and wider inequalities take root for generations to come.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed last week that England’s schools would remain closed until at least March 8.
He pledged to "work with parents, teachers and schools to develop a long-term plan to make sure that pupils have the chance to make up their learning" before 2024.
He said £300 million of funding would finance a catch-up programme over the coming year.