Discussions regarding the impact of COVID-19 on disadvantaged pupils is moving at pace.  As the Education Select Committee heard this week from key sector voices on the potential consequences of the pandemic, NGA has today (4 June) released its latest COVID-19 information briefing, setting out the strategic approach that governing boards can take to reduce educational disadvantage caused and exacerbated by COVID-19.

Despite the huge amounts of hard work put in by educational professionals and sector partners, the legacy of COVID-19 is likely to perpetuate and further widen the disadvantage gap, reversing the progress that has been made within the last decade. The information briefing emphasises that in order to combat and mitigate the issues arising from the pandemic, schools require responsive leadership and strong governance decision-making at the core of their strategic approach.  It recommends that governing boards schedule a strategy review discussion with their senior executive leader at the earliest available opportunity to consider their school/trust’s immediate response (the recovery phase from September) and  assess their school/trust vision and strategic priorities.

Emma Knights, chief executive of the National Governance Association said:
"Governors and trustees across England are frustrated about the amount of schooling that pupils are missing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and concerned that the loss of face-to-face education will have most impact on disadvantaged children.  Governing boards have a hugely important role to play in ensuring a strategic response to this challenge. Not only will schools need to ramp up their efforts to ameliorate the effects of disadvantage, with a likely increase in the numbers of pupils falling into that category, but also to work with executive leaders to address the particular impact of lockdown experiences.  Pupil premium strategies will need to be reviewed in the light of these experiences to make sure this vital funding is used to best effect and ensures young people are able to recover well and resume learning."

Our webinar on 'Disadvantage - considerations for the boards response to a widened attainment gap' is available to watch online. In our most recent issue of Governing Matters, Director of Policy and Information, Sam Henson, discusses 'Closing the gap – addressing the attainment gap created by COVID -19'

We are continuing to produce NGA guidance but if you are not sure of anything, please do contact the GOLDline – email gold@nga.org.uk or call 0121 237 3782. Our advice team is up to date with the latest guidance and will seek an answer from the DfE where necessary.

Thank you so much for what you are doing to support your schools and their leaders to make good decisions. Please keep in touch and NGA will support you in your good work.

Further reading

Preventing the disadvantage gap from increasing during and after the Covid-19 pandemic – a report published by the Education Policy Institute

Tackling the disadvantage gap during the COVID-19 crisis – a briefing from the Children’s Commissioner

Social mobility and COVID-19 - a report from the Sutton Trust

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