Stop the Gap: COVID-19 halts closing of the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers

It has been a challenging year for students, teachers and institutions alike, from school closures due to COVID-19 to the controversial exam results; all of which have hit disadvantaged children hardest. Unfortunately, this only builds on previous years. According to The Education Policy Institute (EPI) Annual Report, out last month, the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has actually stopped closing for the first time in a decade. Policymakers have not succeeded in responding to earlier reports warning of a major loss of momentum in closing the gap. Additional findings included:

  • Disadvantaged pupils in England are 18.1 months of learning behind their peers by the time they finish their GCSEs – the same gap as five years ago.
  • The gap at primary school increased for the first time since 2007 – which may signal that the gap is set to widen in the future.
  • The stalling of the gap occurred even before the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted the education system.
  • Researchers have identified the increasing proportion of disadvantaged children in persistent poverty as a contributory cause of the lack of progress with narrowing the disadvantage gap.

You can download the full report here.

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