Mind the attainment gap: A review of education delivery in our next normal

Copy 7 of Untitled design Max Quality | Mind the attainment gap: A review of education delivery in our next normal
By Toby Lester | 23rd October 2020 | 7 min read

Following nearly six months of closures, schools have reopened this year for a full intake of students. While there has been much speculation that many parents would keep students at home, official figures for the autumn term show nearly 90% of pupils returned; almost nine in ten, according to Department for Education. 

Schools went above and beyond to support remote learning during the summer term. However, new research from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) shows that students are on average three months behind on their learning as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.  


Nearly all teachers report their student cohort are behind where they would normally expect them to be in the curriculum; in fact, on average, teachers report covering only 66% of the usual curriculum during the 2019/20 school year. 

Unfortunately, local lockdowns are continuing to spread across the country and a national lockdown is not beyond the realms of possibility. Department for Education figures revealed that 4% of state schools were classed as “not fully open” by late September and the figure is quickly rising; around 20 schools were closed outright for COVID-related reasons. 

That has not, however, stopped the government from placing pressure on schools to close the attainment gap. Expectations insinuate schools should investigate methods to strike a balance between traditional and remote learning to support all students – whether in the classroom or at home. 

Additional strain came with the announcement that Ofsted visits would soon be reintroduced; leaders must be prepared to advise inspectors on the steps being taken to deliver an appropriate curriculum and ensure students are learning in a safe environment. 

A varied and flexible approach to student engagement and learning is required and, fortunately, it appears that schools have been prepared for quite some time. In a recent survey of over 400 schools and MATs, we found that 52% of schools were putting plans in place for future closures during the summer holidays. 

To close the attainment gap, schools need to tackle a number of challenges; increasing attendance, reducing truancy, improving parent engagement and navigating a move away from a traditional delivery of the curriculum. 

 Teachers are under pressure to fit the same amount of teaching into their school day. With local lockdowns continuing to spread and a second national lockdown on the horizon, how will schools continue to support their communities? We investigate all in our insight guide, Mind the attainment gap: reviewing education delivery in our next normal. Download your free copy today.