Department for Education written question – answered on 5th July 2022.

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Photo of Kate Green Kate Green Labour, Stretford and Urmston

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the steps his Department has taken to help children’s education recover from the impact of the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, Minister of State (Education)

Understanding the impact of the COVID-19 disruption on the attainment and progress of all students is a key research priority for the government. That is why we invested in research into academic progress over the 2020/21 and 2021/22 academic years with Renaissance Learning and the Education Policy Institute. The latest findings from this research, published 28 March, include data from the first half of the 2021-22 autumn term. The findings from this research have been published on at:

Our latest evidence suggests recovery is happening, with primary pupils recovering around 0.1 months in reading and 0.9 months in maths since Summer 2021, and recovering 1.5 months in reading and 1.7 months in maths since Spring 2021, with pupils now only 0.8 months and 1.9 months behind in reading and maths respectively.

This is equivalent to recovering around two thirds of progress lost due to the pandemic in primary reading and around half of progress lost in primary maths since Spring 2021.

Progress for secondary pupils in key stage 3 remains a concern, with pupils now on average around 2.4 months behind in reading, having seen losses since Summer 2021.

We are making some progress in closing gaps between disadvantaged pupils and their peers, additional gaps created by the COVID-19 pandemic appear to have reduced in primary maths and secondary reading since Summer 2021. However, the gap for primary reading appears to have grown.

In line with this evidence, we have announced £1 billion to extend the recovery premium over the next two academic years. This will enable schools to provide additional support for the most disadvantaged, and will be weighted more towards secondary pupils to reflect evidence showing greater learning loss for older pupils, who also have less time left in education. This is part of the nearly £5 billion of funding we have announced for an ambitious, multi-year education recovery plan to support young people to catch up on missed learning.

Recovery funding is already making a difference. By May 2022 1.5 million courses had been started by children across England through the National Tutoring Programme, and £950 million of direct funding through the catch up and recovery premia, was helping schools to deliver evidence-based interventions based on pupil needs. In light of the success of this year’s school-led tutoring route through the National Tutoring Programme, next year we will allocate all tutoring funding directly to schools, simplifying the system and giving schools the freedom to decide how best to provide tutoring for their pupils.

In addition to this, the Schools White Paper, 'Opportunity for all: strong schools with great teachers for your child', sets out how our education system will deliver recovery, not just through our specific recovery investments, but through a wider programme of ambitious reforms that truly level up outcomes and ensure we build back better from the pandemic.

The Parent Pledge in the Schools White Paper will also make the government’s vision clear that any child who falls behind in English or maths will receive the right evidence-based targeted support to get them back on track.

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