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BPS welcomes publication of report exploring the impact of school closures on the attainment gap

29 January 2021

The report published by the Education Endowment Foundation has revealed that primary-age pupils have significantly lower achievement in both reading and maths as a likely result of missed learning due to school closures during the pandemic.

Educational psychologists have raised the issue of the impact of school closures due to Covid-19 on children, in particular raising concerns about the growing attainment gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils.

The study finds that following the disruption to schooling in the 2020 spring and summer terms, Year Two pupils had significantly lower achievement in both reading and maths in autumn 2020 when compared to performance seen in Year Two in the autumn term of 2017. While the disadvantage gap in reading is around seven months’ progress, which represents a widening as compared to Key Stage One in 2019.

Dr Melernie Meheux, co-chair of the Division of Educational Psychology, said:

“This report shines a spotlight on what, as educational psychologists, we have seen happening amongst children.

Teachers and schools are doing an incredible job in very difficult circumstances, but there is no denying that interruptions to schooling are having an impact on children’s learning and is widening the attainment gap, particularly for the most disadvantaged children.

In the immediacy we need to tackle the digital divide to enable effective online learning for all children to mitigate the widening of the gap.

We then need an approach guided by psychology to support children to return to school, drawing on support systems at school, home and their communities and enable them to thrive.”

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