ASCL responds to EPI report on pandemic learning loss during the first half of the 2021 autumn term

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on research carried out by the Education Policy Institute into learning loss from the pandemic published by the Department for Education.
Behind these statistics is the desperately difficult job that faced schools during the autumn term and continues to face them right now. 

“They are simultaneously trying to close gaps caused by Covid disruption while also coping with wave after wave of fresh disruption brought by new infections and resulting pupil and staff absence. They are particularly anxious about students who are due to take GCSEs, A-levels and other important qualifications in the summer. 

“As the research shows, the impact is uneven with disadvantaged students most likely to be detrimentally affected, and geographical variations which will stem from the variability of local infection rates. 

“Sustainable education recovery relies first of all on bringing an end to this disruption and we are not at all sure that the government’s ‘living with Covid’ strategy provides this reassurance. 

“It is absolute folly to withdraw free Covid tests for pupils and staff in schools from 1 April and we would urge a rethink. Free testing should be kept in place at least until the summer and the other side of exam season. This is surely just a matter of common sense