Wednesday 2 September 2020 / 10:30 PM Education / Kate Green / Keir Starmer

Labour calls for a national ‘Close the Gap’ strategy for school catch-up

Labour calls for a national ‘Close the Gap’ strategy for school catch-up as studies suggest Covid closures have significantly widened gaps between pupils

Labour has called on the Government to give parents a “cast-iron guarantee” that no schoolchild will be left behind as a result of Covid, as studies suggest a major widening of the attainment gap between pupils due to school closures.

Ahead of a visit by Labour Leader Keir Starmer and Kate Green to a primary school in Hitchin, Hertfordshire on Thursday, Labour has called for a national strategy for schools catch-up – monitored by an independent body – and a new legal requirement to publish data on the attainment gap.

The intervention comes as studies suggest the attainment gap between the most disadvantaged students and their peers has been significantly worsened by school closures. Research from the National Foundation for Educational Research published on Tuesday showed a widening attainment gap, with pupils in deprived schools three times more likely to be four months behind in their studies than more affluent peers.

Previous studies have found school closures may have widened the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their classmates by up to 75 per cent, and that the largest gaps appear to be emerging between primary aged pupils.

Kate Green has urged Minsters to guarantee parents that their children will be able to make up for the learning they have lost since schools closed in March. Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary also criticised a “summer of incompetence” on education after the results fiasco, failure to deliver promised summer catch up schemes and delays to the promised national tutoring programme.

 

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, commenting, said:

“The Government’s incompetence this summer put a generation’s future at risk. Unless Ministers finally get a grip, with a national strategy for catch-up, many more children risk being robbed of their future.

“Parents need a cast-iron guarantee that any child who has fallen behind will get the support they need to catch up. We need independent oversight and transparency, to compare the gap between pupils in different parts of the country and against the pre-Covid generation.

“The last six months have been incredibly difficult for children and families across the country. No child should be left behind because of this crisis or government incompetence.”