63% of school leaders believe the attainment gap has grown during lockdown – how can using Focus Skills help to close it?

By Renaissance UK,

We recently undertook some research which asked over four hundred (443) senior school leaders, department heads and teachers about their experience of assessing and combatting the attainment gap as schools return to the classroom. The findings revealed that the majority of heads and school teachers (63%) think lockdown has made the attainment gap greater and a third (33%) of teachers also feel their schools are unprepared to act on attainment differences.

Despite the clear challenges of lockdown, over a third (38%) of teachers did not feel their school was prepared to measure attainment differences when returning to the classroom. In light of this potential learning loss due to Covid-19, Renaissance is offering free tools (downloadable Focus Skills™ Teacher Workbooks) to help teachers’ bridge pupils’ attainment gap. Focus Skills™ are—simply put—the building blocks of student learning built into Renaissance’s products. Based on extensive research into how learning progresses in reading and mathematics from Reception to Year 11, Focus Skills™ provide a roadmap for closing learning gaps as you move every student toward greater mastery.

Cover for the Developing national curriculum based learning progressions in reading report

Using Focus Skills

Focus Skills™ were developed alongside detailed Learning Progressions in partnership with the National Foundation for Educational Research. Collectively, they map pupils’ knowledge against the National Curriculum, which together with formative assessment can show teachers areas where gaps have formed in pupils’ learning.

We know how important it is for teachers to be able to identify the impact of time lost to learning during lockdown. Schools need this information in order to make informed decisions on how best to effectively support their pupils in catching up by prioritising the most important skills. With disadvantaged children likely to be the ones who have suffered the most over the last few months – due to a lack of electronic devices and internet access – it’s even more important they are given the support they deserve to catch up with their peers.

Our research found the most popular methods teachers plan to use to measure the attainment gap are through teacher assessment (84%), regular assessment (71%) and assessment at the end of the first term and end of the academic year (50%). We believe that teachers can use dedicated Focus Skills™ Workbooks, to plan lessons that support pupils in learning the skills necessary for them to meet the curriculum requirements for their academic year group. These educational tools save teachers time and support them in creating tailored lesson plans, meaning pupils spend more time learning and are given more specific support for their developmental needs.

The research also found that teachers feel education technology is most useful for enabling remote learning in case of local lockdowns (40%), facilitating blended learning (14%) and encouraging students to continue their studies on their own (7%). We know schools are working hard to stay open but with the potential for further local school lockdowns during winter, and some schools closing due to Covid-19 cases now, edtech will continue to play a key role in remote learning. We’ve developed resources to help schools use Star Assessments for Reading and Maths in-school, remotely or in a blended learning environment.

Star Assessments complement Accelerated Reader, Accelerated Maths and myON by Renaissance, and provide a personalised learning plan for each student, helping to inform next teaching steps.

For more information on Focus Skills and how to access the workbooks visit: http://www.renlearn.co.uk/focus-skills/


Renaissance UK

Renaissance is a leading provider of learning analytics - enabling teachers, curriculum creators and educators to drive phenomenal student growth. Renaissance's solutions help educators analyse, customise and plan personalised learning paths for students of all ages and abilities, allowing time for what matters - creating energizing learning experiences in the classroom. Founded by parents, upheld by educators and enriched by data scientists, Renaissance knows learning is a continual journey - from year to year, and for a lifetime. For more information, visit www.renlearn.co.uk.



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