24th February 2021

New Department for Education report on pupil learning loss: EPI comments

Today the Department for Education (DfE) has published a new report examining the extent of learning loss among primary and secondary school pupils during the autumn term.

The research, which provides new evidence on the impact of the pandemic on pupils’ attainment, was carried out by Education Policy Institute (EPI) and Renaissance Learning for the Department.

You can read the DfE report here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pupils-progress-in-the-2020-to-2021-academic-year-interim-report


Commenting on the new EPI-Renaissance research, Jon Andrews, Head of Analysis at the Education Policy Institute (EPI) said: 

“We know that all pupils have encountered huge disruption to their education over the last year, but to date there has only been limited evidence detailing how much learning they have lost. 

“Our new research, which analyses over a million Renaissance Star pupil assessments from this current academic year, fills this crucial evidence gap. We find that by the first half of the 2020 autumn term, pupils had already fallen behind with their learning by up to two months in reading, and up to three months in maths. 

“Our analysis shows that learning losses in schools that have many pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds were around 50% higher than those schools with very few pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. This underlines the need for pupil catch-up interventions to be heavily targeted at the poorest pupils.

“EPI and Renaissance will continue to undertake analysis on the impact of the pandemic on learning loss, where we will consider its effects on different pupil groups, and at later periods in the current academic year.” 


Natalie Perera, Chief Executive of the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said: 

“These new findings show that considerable losses in pupil progress were already evident by the first half of the autumn term, with pupils in primary schools, secondary schools and in different parts of the country all seeing their academic progress penalised by the pandemic. 

“Since then, pupils have faced further disruption as a result of this period of school closures. While teachers, parents and pupils have been going to great lengths to adapt to remote learning, the real concern now is that these learning losses could increase. 

“We need to continue to look at how we can support all pupils through effective catch-up programmes, but particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, whose education has taken the biggest hit from the pandemic. Policies need to be well-targeted to account for the different amounts of learning loss among pupils.”