Commenting on the data, Natalie Perera, CEO of the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said: “The data published today paints a worrying picture for social mobility in England. It shows that, not only has overall attainment mostly declined, but some of the country’s most vulnerable children are falling further behind their peers.

“According to the government’s own data, the disadvantage gap is now around the same level as it was in 2012, taking us back a decade. This is not just a result of the pandemic. The disadvantage gap for primary-school pupils was already widening in 2019 and we can see that the pandemic has made it worse.

“The gap is also widening between London and most other regions of the country, a further indication that the government is failing in its efforts to “Level Up”.

Addressing the increasing inequality in our education system should be an urgent priority for the new Prime Minister. Given the challenges that loom ahead, Ministers must focus on adequately resourcing schools and implementing a cross-government child poverty strategy.”