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New study shows attainment gap has widened by a quarter during pandemic

Analysis published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) indicates the attainment gap between disadvantaged and advantaged children has grown by up to 25% over the past 2 years.

The research, which examined the impact of Covid-19 related disruption on the attainment of Key Stage 1 pupils, suggests that Year 2 still have significantly lower achievement in both reading and maths than would be expected in normal times, and that the disadvantage gap remains wider than expected.

Year 1 pupils made on average three months’ less progress for both reading and mathematics compared with the cohort of spring 2019. Year 2 pupils made three months’ less progress for reading in spring 2021, and around two months’ less progress for mathematics.

The report also shows there is a substantial attainment gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils. In Year 1, there is a staggering gap of around seven months for both reading and mathematics.

In Year 2, the findings indicate that the disadvantage gap is around seven months for reading and eight months for mathematics. The gap is wider in both subjects for this year group compared to 2019, when it was estimated to be six months’ progress.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation and of the Sutton Trust, said:

“"Today's research gives us yet more evidence of the enormous impact school closures have had on young people, especially those from low income homes."

"The research indicates that what is needed is a well-financed, multi-year funding plan for all young people. This should be for their classroom learning and wider development".

“There should also be funding for the extra-curricular activities that young people have missed out on to boost their wellbeing and life skills, as well as funding for their mental health support".