NFER response to Education Secretary Statement on Education Recovery


Monday 7 June 2021

Responding to the Education Secretary’s statement on education recovery, Carole Willis, chief executive of the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) said:

“The events of last week came as a surprise and disappointment to the whole education sector, particularly as the Prime Minister was reported to have viewed education as a central plank of the country’s recovery plans.

“NFER’s research has documented the enormous challenges of the last 18 months. Many children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, did not have the technology, quiet places to study, or parents who were confident to support them to make as much progress as usual."

“Research by NFER and others suggests that children have fallen behind by between two and three months in reading and maths – and more for those eligible for free school meals."

"It is a huge credit to schools, parents and children that this is significantly less than the period of school closures."

“There is a rich evidence base on how best to tackle these challenges – to which NFER is adding on an on-going basis. This will have formed the basis for Sir Kevan Collins’ proposals which are likely to have reflected the importance of quality teaching, enabled by a properly resourced and supported teaching workforce, and to recognise the need for cross-sector partnership to address other influences on children’s progression." 

“Significant investment over multiple years is required to enable children to recover – both in academic terms and in terms of their wellbeing and mental health. Funding should be sufficient to support the expansion of a teaching workforce which has been pushed to the limit in recent months."

“Our research has highlighted that teachers’ working hours in term time are still significantly higher than other professionals. Successful recovery strategies need to include provision for increased teaching capacity, as well as exploring how greater cross-sector partnership working can better distribute the range of tasks required to enable children to recover."

“Long run estimates of the failure to address the effects of missed learning run into the hundreds of billions of pounds. The OECD estimates the impacts of the first lockdown alone to cost the economy £1.5 trillion in lost GDP over the coming decades."

“While the newly announced package of £1.4bn will help some children – the current evidence on the potential impact of small group tutoring is strong - we ask the government to look again at the funds available to support education recovery over the next few years. This is a vital foundation towards creating skilled and confident citizens and employees who can play a crucial role in the country’s future success.”