Commenting on the government’s education recovery plans, Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust and chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:
“We know that the impact of the past year of disrupted schooling will be long-lasting and wide-ranging. In fact, unless decisive action is taken some children are never going to catch up. Today’s package of measures is a promising start that will help get our children’s education back on track, but there are no quick fixes. Undoing the negative impact of the last 12 months will require an ambitious consistent multi-year recovery plan.
“The strongest evidence for accelerating learning is for increasing time for high-quality teaching. Targeted summer schools are one way to achieve this, and it’s good that schools will have flexibility to decide what will work best for them and their staff. However, it’s important to recognise the problem of teacher burnout that could be exacerbated by additional workload.
“It’s particularly welcome to see the government take-up our recommendation to increase the pupil premium through the Recovery Premium in the next school year. This will allow schools to target resources directly at disadvantaged pupils, who we know are most likely to have lost out.
“Tutoring can play a significant part in the recovery, so it’s great that the government has committed to funding tutoring – including through the National Tutoring Programme – beyond this academic year. This should help close the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their classmates.”
1) Impact of school closures on attainment
At the beginning of February, the EEF published interim findings from a research project with the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) that looked at the impact of the first period of school closures on Year 2 (6 / 7 year olds) pupils’ reading and maths.
The research found that:
– Overall performance in both reading and mathematics in autumn 2020 was found to be significantly lower compared to the 2017 cohort, with pupils, on average, making two months less progress in both subject areas compared to the standardisation sample.
– There is a large and concerning gap between the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and non-disadvantaged pupils. For both reading and maths this gap is estimated to be the equivalent of seven months’ learning.
The Sutton Trust’s Learning in Lockdown report (published Jan 2021) highlighted some of the potential reasons why disadvantaged pupils’ attainment is more likely to be affected by school closures.
According to the report:
The report recommended the schools receive a ‘covid premium’ for their disadvantaged pupils of £400 additional per pupil, or £750m in total.
2) Summer schools
There’s a secure evidence base that shows summer schools can bring small positive gains to attainment. However, they are expensive, and trials have highlighted that it can be difficult to get pupils to attend.
3) Tutoring / National Tutoring Programme
There is a very strong evidence showing that both one-to-one and small-group tuition can bring positive learning gains.