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Disadvantaged pupils twice as likely to have fallen behind during the pandemic

New Teach First research reveals that disadvantaged pupils may be twice as likely as their richer counterparts to have fallen behind because of the pandemic.

The survey from education charity Teach First found that just under a third (30%) of teachers at schools with the poorest pupils believe most of their pupils are behind in their attainment compared to this point in a normal year, compared to just 15% of teachers at schools with the most affluent pupils. *

When asked what would make the most difference to support students in the future, the most popular choice from teachers was funding and access to social and mental health services (61%).** In addition, four in ten (42%) said all households to have access to Wi-Fi and digital devices, a similar figure (39%) said teacher and leader development, while 52% said funding to reduce teachers timetabled hours.

When asked what the greatest barriers to engaging in long term planning for their school, the responses highlight the gaps between pupils from the poorest and richest backgrounds.**

  • 62% of teachers at schools with the poorest pupils said it was addressing the immediate gaps in pupils’ knowledge, compared to 51% of teachers at schools with the most affluent pupils
  • 50% of teachers at schools with the poorest pupils said supporting their pupils’ emotional and social wellbeing, compared to 38% of teachers at schools with the most affluent pupils
  • 60% at schools with the poorest pupils said it was workload, compared to 64% of teachers at schools with the most affluent pupils

Despite teachers across the country working in immensely challenging conditions for the past year, there are changes made to the education system some teachers would like to remain. 43% of all teachers would like to see the increased use of technology to stay, 46% would like the option of remote working (at least some of the time) and 45% would like increased national attention on the attainment gap to stay.*

The survey comes as Teach First launches a proposed manifesto which sets out their draft recommendations on what action they believe needs to be taken to ensure every child has the chance to thrive in a post-pandemic world. The charity will now be seeking feedback on the manifesto proposals from schools, teachers, leaders and partners, as they seek to build the final manifesto with insights of those working on the frontline of education.

One proposal Teach First is putting forward is a minimum five-year targeted increase in funding for schools serving disadvantaged communities. The charity is also seeking feedback on a number of other ideas, including: increased support and development for aspiring school leaders from underrepresented backgrounds; mental health and social services around schools to be sufficiently funded; and every household and pupil to have access to the internet and a digital device

Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First, said:

“The pandemic has widened gaps between the advantaged and disadvantaged. We need to tackle that, but we also need to ask why those gaps existed in the first place. The best way we can build a fair education system is by getting to root causes. This is a chance to do things differently – to reform as we recover.

“While these findings are deeply worrying, we strongly believe that by creating the right environment for schools, teachers and pupils to thrive, no child need be held back as result of the pandemic. If we want our country and economy to bounce back, we must unlock the talent, ideas and skills of every single young person. We look forward to engaging with people across the education community on our manifesto proposals in the coming months to ensure that what we’re calling for is based on the best possible evidence of those working on the frontline of education.”

Nathan D’Laryea, Assistant Principal at Loreto High School in Chorlton said:

“We had no idea of the extent of lost learning the pandemic would cause, and how much lockdown would affect our pupils and staff. Many students were concerned about their education, while others almost needed to learn how to socialise with their peers again. It’s seen our remarkable pastoral team work even harder to identify and tackle these issues, while our teaching staff have continued to accept the disruptions and work incredibly hard to get our pupils back on track.

“Now more than ever, schools need the right support to fully recover from the pandemic. This means overarching support in closing the attainment gap, access to pastoral and social services, and ensuring teachers have everything they need to empower their pupils to thrive.”



Notes to Editor

*Research was conducted by Teacher Tapp on 25 April 2021, sampling 5881 teachers, with results found in full here.

**Research was conducted by Teacher Tapp on 6 April 2021, sampling 6559 teachers, with results found in full here.

About Teacher Tapp

Teacher Tapp is a daily survey app that asks over 8,000 teachers questions each day and reweights the results to make them representative.

About Teach First

Teach First is an education charity with a mission to build a fair education for all. Through a range of school leadership programmes the charity supports teachers, leaders and schools facing the biggest challenges, serving the most disadvantaged communities.

The charity has now recruited over 18,000 teachers and leaders, has over 85 head teachers in their alumni and has supported over a million pupils.

Those on the Training Programme commit to a minimum of two years at their partner school, where they teach a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) timetable; more than half stay on for a third year. Over 62% of all the teachers who’ve completed training since 2003 are currently teaching. The charity supports whole leadership teams through Leading Together. Develops individuals to become effective leaders through Middle Leader, Senior Leader and Headship programmes that include a National Professional Qualification. And provides Career Leader training to develop a long-term, school-wide careers strategy to improve student opportunities after school.

Teach First currently operates in Wales and in all regions across England: London, West Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire the Humber, North West, North East, South East, South Coast, South West and the East of England.


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