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Learning Skills significantly impacted by Covid

An article published by TES this week, reports of recent research finding that literacy levels in Year 2 have been significantly affected by covid. The study by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) indicated that the percentage of ‘very low-attaining pupils’ has tripled from 2.9% in 2017 to 9.1% this year.



The study followed 6,000 pupils through Reception and Year 1 and tracked progress in literacy and numeracy from March 2020 until the Spring term of 2022.


‘In maths, the proportion of very low attainment in Year 2 more than doubled - from 2.6% before the pandemic to 5.5% in 2022.’ The low attainers were defined as those who scored below the lowest standardised score in assessments earlier this year.


“The findings of the study reflect the severe impact that the pandemic has had on many young children during a crucial stage of both their learning and emotional development.”

Tiffnie Harris from the Association of School and College Leaders said “the findings of the study reflect the severe impact that the pandemic has had on many young children during a crucial stage of both their learning and emotional development.”


“Reduced time in class has been particularly damaging to children from disadvantaged backgrounds, with parents having fewer resources and less time to support them.”


Primary school budgets are increasingly stretched - even after additional funds announced with the Autumn Statement from the treasury - with higher energy bills and teacher pay rises already anticipated this financial year.


It is recognised that teachers have already put in a huge amount of work helping pupils catch up but as these recent figures demonstrate, there are significant challenges hitting all levels of learning - particularly those just starting or in primary schools during the pandemic.


A major challenge facing schools - where time pressures are always a key difficulty - is how do they best identify the key learning gaps for individual pupils? Schools have made significant progress in recognising key curriculum gaps, and mitigating for missed subject areas and learned knowledge. But parents fear that some of the skills gaps will impact on their children’s ability to access harder content as they progress through the school. For those struggling to attain, and keep up with, expected literacy and numeracy skills remain at a disadvantage as the pressure to keep up with the curriculum continues to rise.


At Spotlight, our consultants recognise these pressures and, using our assessment data, can help families identify those key skills gaps and support ways in which these areas can be tackled. We can also help parents engage better with their children’s needs, and offer ways in which to collaborate with the school and class teacher, to provide the very best support around the child. And finally, where and when appropriate, Spotlight’s support can laser-guide tutors to the most impactful gaps saving families valuable time and money.

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