Essex “on the right track” to close the disadvantage gap for pupils in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic

Education: Secondary / Thu 24th Feb 2022 at 07:59am

ESSEX on the right track to close the disadvantage gap for pupils in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic

Research undertaken by the Education Policy Institute highlights key areas of focus for Essex County Council, as progress continues to be made to close the disadvantage gap for pupils across the county.

A new report has been published which tracks progress towards closing the disadvantage gap for Essex pupils whose education has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Essex Education Task Force (EETF) recently commissioned the Education Policy Institute (EPI) to look at trends around the disadvantage gap across early years, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 4 and 16-19-year olds in Essex.

They found that while attainment in Essex is broadly in line with the national average and there are in fact fewer disadvantaged pupils in the county than nationally, the extent of disadvantage is consistently wider across all areas, except early years.

This is something ECC’s education service and the Essex Education Task Force (EETF) are already addressing and EPI’s report follows an earlier publication: ‘Addressing Educational Disadvantage in schools and colleges: The Essex Way’.

This outlines exactly what action is already being taken to reduce disadvantage and promote positive outcomes for all children and young people in Essex.

The EETF was established last year to minimise the impact of the pandemic on all children and young people as quickly as possible, using and sharing innovation and best practice across the education system in Essex.

As part of this, it was announced in summer last year that £1million would be invested into the Essex Year of Reading 2022, to help to reverse the effects of the pandemic and ensure that every child in Essex leaves school able to read at their age level or better.

Being able to read well is key to children and young people – specifically those who are classed as more disadvantaged than their peers – being able to unlock further educational opportunities, learn new skills and go onto thrive later in life.

ECC also recently launched its new Early Years and Childcare strategy, which outlines the high aspirations and goals we have for every young child living in Essex and how we will ensure they get the best possible start in life.

Cllr Tony Ball, ECC Cabinet Member for Education Excellence, Lifelong Learning and Employability, said: “We welcome the report and the chance to work with the Education Policy Institute to consider this important area in a new light. The evidence presented demonstrates that the areas we are already addressing in Essex to reduce the disadvantage gap are the right ones.

“We are making great progress but we also know there are areas where we can do things differently to improve how we support children and young people. I look forward to continuing our work and delivering on our commitment to ensure every child and young person can reach their full potential.”

Roy Blatchford, Chair of the Essex Education Task Force, said: “At the heart of the work of the Task Force lies renewal, equality and an ambition to support every young person whose education has been affected by the pandemic, to thrive.

“EPI’s report highlights that there is still work to be done to close the disadvantage gap in Essex, but we are on the right track and making positive progress against our aims.”

Bobbie Mills, Senior Researcher at the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said: “We are pleased to be able to shine a light on the educational outcomes of disadvantaged pupils in Essex through our analysis. Our new research findings will enable the County Council and its Education Taskforce to pinpoint areas of improvement and build on plans to support pupils following the pandemic.” 

The full EPI report is available here which includes the full results, methodology and breakdown by area.

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1 Comment for Essex “on the right track” to close the disadvantage gap for pupils in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:

David Vincent
2022-02-26 02:49:51

Not all good news if you carefully read the downloadable report. This is one example on page 9: "Despite progress in the first half of the 2010s towards narrowing the KS4 gap, which saw the Essex gap fall slightly below the national average, the KS4 gap in Essex has begun to widen in recent years. Our analysis of the grade gap in 2019/20 suggests that this concerning trend continues. For persistently disadvantaged pupils in Essex, we find that they finish their GCSE year about 25 months behind their more affluent peers (2019/20). This is a further two months behind other persistently disadvantaged pupils nationally and is equivalent to being more than two years behind in their learning." Not something to be proud of.

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