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Best evidence on impact of school closures on the attainment gap

Research examining the potential impact of school closures on the attainment gap.

Impact of school closures on KS1: potential implications for practice in year 2 (February 2021)

This analysis, produced by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), looks at Year 2 pupils’ performance in maths and reading tests in November 2020 to identify common patterns, misconceptions and errors. It also considers potential implications for teacher practice and is intended to complement broader school efforts to support pupil wellbeing and ensure positive outcomes for children.

It forms part of an ongoing EEF-funded study assessing the extent to which Key Stage 1 pupils’ attainment in reading and maths are impacted by partial school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic, and particularly the effect on disadvantaged pupils.

  1. Updated: 25th February, 2021

    Impact of school closures on KS1: potential implications for practice in year 2 (February 2021)


Interim Paper: Impact of school closures and subsequent support strategies on attainment and socio-emotional wellbeing in Key Stage 1 (January 2021)

This interim report assesses the extent to which Key Stage 1 pupils’ attainment in reading and maths were impacted by partial school closures during the first national Covid-19 lockdown, and particularly the effect on disadvantaged pupils.

The paper focuses on the gap in attainment likely caused by March 2020 school closures (commonly called ‘learning loss’), and the disadvantage gap for Year 2 children as measured in autumn 2020. The results focus on assessments taken by Year 2 pupils (aged 6-7 and in their final year of Key Stage 1) in autumn term 2020 sat by nearly 6000 pupils in 168 schools.

The findings suggest that primary-age pupils have significantly lower achievement in both reading and maths as a likely result of missed learning. In addition, there is a large and concerning attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and non-disadvantaged pupils.

This study is part of a series of analyses being conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), funded by the Education Endowment Foundation. Further information on the NFER’s research project on the ‘Impact of Covid-19 school closures and subsequent support strategies on attainment and socioemotional wellbeing in Key Stage 1’ is available here.

  1. Updated: 28th January, 2021

    Interim Paper: Impact of school closures on attainment in Key Stage 1 (January 2021)


Impact of school closures on the attainment gap: Rapid Evidence Assessment (June 2020)

The EEF's rapid evidence assessment examines the potential impact of school closures on the attainment gap, based on a systematic search of existing literature.

Key findings and implications include:

  • School closures are likely to reverse progress made to close the gap in the last decade since 2011.
  • Supporting effective remote learning will mitigate the extent to which the gap widens.
  • Sustained support will be needed to help disadvantaged pupils catch up.
  1. Updated: 3rd June, 2020

    Rapid evidence assessment summary

  1. Updated: 2nd June, 2020

    Impact of school closures on the attainment gap: Rapid Evidence Assessment (June 2020)