Impact of Covid-19-related school closures in Key Stage 1 on attainment and social skills of pupils in Year 3 and Year 4 in academic year 2022/2023

Susan Rose, Pippa Lord, Roger Ager, Jose Liht, Tara Paxman, Gemma Schwendel, Ben Styles and Liz Twist

05 October 2023

This longitudinal study follows a group of the youngest school-aged children during and since the Covid-19 pandemic to understand the long-term impact of Covid-19 related disruption to schools on pupils’ attainment and social skills. This report represents the findings from the third year of the study. 

The two previous reports are linked below:

The research has been conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), published and funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).

Key Findings

  • Overall, the Covid-19 gap appears to have closed for both Year 3 and Year 4 pupils, on average, in both reading and mathematics.
  • There is a notable proportion of very low attaining pupils in Year 3 reading which is larger than that seen before the pandemic.
  • There is a disadvantage gap for reading in both Year 3 and Year 4 of around 7 months’ progress and these gaps have not decreased since spring 2021.
  • There is a disadvantage gap for mathematics in both Year 3 and Year 4 of around 6 months’ progress. These gaps have reduced significantly since spring 2021, but remain wider than those reported before the pandemic.
  • Schools reported less disruption to learning in 2022/23 than had been the case in the previous year. For those experiencing disruption, the most commonly reported reasons related to pupils’ behaviour and wellbeing.
  • Despite the signs of recovery, it is not yet clear if our findings are embedded trends, or how long catch-up support may be needed, for recovery to be sustained. Continuing to track pupils’ progress throughout primary school will be important to help schools target further catch-up support appropriately.