Impact of Covid-19 disruptions in primary schools: attainment gaps and school responses

This project will aim to provide rapid feedback about the impacts of Covid-19 related closures on the attainment gap between advantaged and disadvantaged pupils in maths and literacy in primary schools and map the trajectory of attainment gaps over the 2020-21 school year. The project will also examine associations between pupil performance and different school and teacher practices both during the period of Covid-19 school closures and on return to school.

Why are we funding it?

There is good reason to believe that the recent school closures will lead to a widening of the attainment gap. However, the best available estimates to date have relied on aggregating studies that are not directly comparable to Covid-19-related closures. We currently have limited knowledge about the types of support schools and teachers provided to students during lockdown, and the strategies they will pursue in the autumn term. 

How are we evaluating it?

The study will focus on a set of around 145 primary schools that administered standardised tests in maths and reading in Years 2 to 6 before school closures began, and those that are administering tests again in autumn 2020, spring 2021 and summer 2021. The team are working with TeacherTapp to survey teachers and leaders from these schools about their approach to supporting students during the closure period and how schools are helping students recover from the disruptions. They will then investigate the relationships between school and teacher practices and changes in the disadvantage attainment gap.

When will the evaluation report be due?

The initial report for this study will be published in March 2021. Two follow on reports will be published in July 2021 and September 2021, following additional assessments taken in the spring and summer terms 2021.