What was the impact of Key Stage 1 school closures on later attainment and social skills?

Rebecca Wheater, Susan Rose and Rob Ager

23 February 2023

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the very youngest pupils in schools had their schooling and social interactions in the classroom disrupted by lengthy periods of school closures and remote learning.

Our research focuses particularly on these young pupils, and is exploring how their learning and social skills are recovering two years on from the pandemic. We first collected data about the pupils when they were in Years 1 and 2, in the academic year 2020/21. This leaflet, for school leaders and teachers, follows the pupils into Years 2 and 3 in the academic year 2021/22.

This summary for school leaders provides the headline findings from the study, including that Year 2 children had, on average, caught up in maths; and Year 3 children had, on average, caught up in reading and in maths – to the level of attainment of pupils before the pandemic. However, whilst many children had caught up, younger children (in Year 2) were behind in their reading, and there were more very low attaining pupils in the typical classroom.

It highlights the key areas where pupils are struggling, particularly in their reading in Year 2 (such as explaining the sequence of events in texts), and the practical areas which schools are finding helpful to support learning (such as small group work, and a revised curriculum).

It acknowledges the increased workload for teachers and schools in supporting learning and wellbeing. It emphasises the need for adequate funding for schools to focus on supporting very low attaining pupils and closing the disadvantage gap.

Sponsor Details

Education Endowment Foundation