More than a fifth of A-level students applying for university this year missed at least 20 days of school due to Covid-19 in the run-up to their exams, according to a new report.
A study by the Sutton Trust published on Thursday suggested the pandemic continued to disrupt pupils’ learning in the 2022 exam period, with more than a third (34%) of higher education applicants missing 11 or more days of school for Covid-related reasons.
Over one in five of these A-level students – 21% – were found to have missed more than 20 days in the period leading up to the national exams.
The report also found the number of students worrying about their grades is on the rise.
In 2021, 58% said they felt nervous about the grades they would receive, compared to 64% in 2022. Those from working class backgrounds are more likely to be concerned than middle class applicants.
Of the 434 applicants surveyed by Savanta for the study, 62% think they have fallen behind academically compared to where they would have been if the pandemic had not happened, compared to 69% of those surveyed last year.
Ethnic minority students were more likely to think they had fallen behind than white applicants, at 41% compared to 23%.
This year’s exams, the first national examinations taken in schools since before the pandemic, saw extra measures put in place to help students, such as the provision of advance exam topic information.
However, of 4,089 teachers consulted in the social mobility education charity’s report, nearly half (45%) said mitigations put in place for this year’s exams did not go far enough to compensate for pandemic-related disruption.
The attainment gap between poorer pupils and their peers was an issue raised by teachers, with 29% of teachers in deprived schools believing this would widen substantially, compared with 16% of teachers in wealthier schools.
The Sutton Trust report is the latest indication of the pandemic’s significant impact on pupil’ education, despite the past academic year seeing society return to some sense of normality.
Dr Rebecca Montacute, a senior researcher at the Sutton Trust, told the PA news agency: “It’s been really easy… to have a return to normality post-pandemic and think everything’s fine now, things are sorted, it’s all back to normal.
“What the findings really highlight is actually, for school kids this year, that hasn’t necessarily been the case… these kids are still facing a lot of disruption from the pandemic.”
Dr Montacute added that the Sutton Trust would like to see further catch-up support offered to pupils, particularly for those taking exams next year.
James Turner, chief executive of the Sutton Trust, said: “Today’s research highlights that the impacts of the pandemic on education are far from over – and the consequences are still being felt among young people and their teachers.
“As we approach results day and a more competitive university admissions cycle than ever, we must make sure that poorer youngsters have a fair chance to succeed.
“Universities should give additional consideration to disadvantaged students who have just missed out on their grades and make sure recent gains in widening access to higher education are not lost.
“As we recover from the pandemic, there still needs to be a laser-like focus on supporting pupils to catch-up, through significant ongoing investment in education recovery.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “In recognition of the disruption students have faced, we worked with Ofqual to put in place a number of adaptations to exams this year. It is encouraging to see that over three quarters of those applying for university found the advanced exam information helpful.
“To help students get back on track we have invested nearly £5 billion, with over two million tutoring courses already started through the National Tutoring Programme, across an estimated 80% of schools.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub Source : Radio News Hub