Learning gap between poor kids and richer classmates 'has become a gulf' during lockdown, research finds

The learning gap between poor kids and their better-off classmates “has become a gulf”, it was claimed.

New research suggests disadvantaged pupils fell further behind during the lockdown than more affluent pupils.

Steve Chalke, founder of Oasis Community Learning, which is responsible for 31,500 children at 52 academies, urged the Government to treble the pupil premium funding used to boost the education of the nation’s most disadvantaged pupils.

He said: “Government should respond to the need before it causes irrevocable damage by trebling this funding, at least over the next three years, and focusing it on children living in persistent poverty and facing long-term disadvantage.

“It is vital that Government makes this move now, to ensure that a generation of children, already disadvantaged before the Covid-19 lockdown but whose situations have deteriorated even further, are not completely abandoned, doomed to spend their lives struggling for opportunities their peers will have ready access to, rather than flourishing.”

Mr Chalke also called for a boost to the Government’s £350 million National Tutoring Programme.

He told the BBC funding for the scheme to help disadvantaged pupils catch-up after lockdown, “is far too little” and does not do enough to address the “aching long-term need to narrow the disadvantage gap”.

The Education Department said the classroom was the best place for disadvantaged pupils to be, where the Government’s £1billion Covid-19 catch-up package was “tackling the impact of lost teaching time”.

A spokesman said: “Head teachers and school leaders are best placed to make decisions about their pupils and which of them need the most support.”

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