Schools

‘Wake-up call’ as primary pupils struggle with maths post-Covid

Younger children still weeks behind pre-lockdown norms, showing PM faces 'many obstacles' in maths to 18 ambition

Younger children still weeks behind pre-lockdown norms, showing PM faces 'many obstacles' in maths to 18 ambition

11 May 2023, 0:01

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Primary school children are still struggling to catch up on maths in the wake of Covid, a study has found.

Education Policy Institute bosses said their latest research with Renaissance Learning into education recovery should act as a “wake-up call” to the government, as they warned more needs to be done to tackle pandemic learning loss.

The latest report found the gap in reading outcomes between the most and least disadvantaged primaries is about 6 per cent wider than when the virus broke out.

And in maths youngsters aged between four and 11 are said to be about five weeks behind expectations prior to the outbreak more than three years ago.

EPI head of analysis Jon Andrews said “it is clear the effects of Covid are still being felt” in the classroom.

“There is a risk that government focus on education recovery is waning, and this analysis is a wake-up call that there is still much work to be done.

“The prime minister has set out a bold ambition for all young people to study maths up to age 18. There are many obstacles to meeting that, and this analysis highlights that among them is the fact younger children have fallen behind in their maths as a result of the pandemic.”

The study did, though, find “outcomes in reading appear to have recovered for most year groups”. EPI said this was consistent with national curriculum assessments at the end of key stage 2 last spring.

But the gap in reading outcomes between primary schools “with high and low levels of disadvantage is equivalent to about 12.3 months of learning”. The figure stood at 11.7 months before the first lockdown.

The authors of the document said it will be “the first in a series of reports that will be produced over the coming year as we ensure policy makers have access to robust data” on pupil performance.  

This comes after a government-backed project run by Renaissance and the EPI in October 2021 found there was “notable catch-up” for primary-aged pupils in reading.

The Department for Education was approached for comment.

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