Poorer primary pupils in England up to seven months behind due to Covid

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Primary school pupils in the Midlands and the north have suffered the sharpest falls in attainment in England during the pandemic, with the poorest pupils now lagging up to seven months behind their peers, according to new data.

Analysis of scores attained by a quarter of a million primary pupils in standardised tests at the end of last term show that in economically deprived areas of England, scores dropped by double the average, with maths results worst affected.

The findings will fuel growing concern about the disproportionate impact of lockdown on the most disadvantaged children – many of whom have struggled to engage with remote learning – which experts fear will further widen the attainment gap.

The data also highlights a stark geographical divide in attainment during the pandemic, with schools in the Midlands experiencing the steepest declines in reading and maths, while the biggest falls in grammar, punctuation and spelling (GPS) scores were seen in the north of England.

Overall, the results show that primary pupils are on average two months behind in GPS and one month behind in both maths and reading. The most disadvantaged children, however, are now six months behind their peers – a month more than they would been before the pandemic…

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