This research was commissioned by the Department for Education in 2020 to understand the progress pupils made in the 2020 to 2021 academic year and estimate the impact of the disruption to schooling as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on that progress. This research was later extended to also include findings from Autumn 1 2021/22.

The reports present the Education Policy Institute and Renaissance Learning’s assessment of the learning loss experienced by pupils in England as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is based on assessment data from Renaissance’s Star Reading and Star Maths.

The assessment data has been linked with the National Pupil Database which has enabled us to carry out analysis by pupil characteristics. In the reports linked below, we provide estimates of the overall level of learning loss throughout the 2020/21 academic year, and the first half of the autumn term 2021/22, which is then broken down by various characteristic groups.

Our Research Partners:

The Department for Education is responsible for children’s services and education, including early years, schools, higher and further education policy, apprenticeships and wider skills in England. 

The Education Policy Institute is an independent, impartial and evidence-based research institute that aims to promote high-quality education outcomes for all children and young people, regardless of social background. 

Researching learning loss: Our latest findings from Autumn 2021/22


*Please be aware that the estimates shown for Autumn 1 2021/22 are not directly comparable as they are looking at a different set of pupils. This is indicated by the dotted line and reflects a small change in the methodology to produce the best estimate of the current situation in schools. More information can be found in the latest report and blog post.

  • Primary reading remains largely unchanged when compared with summer 2021, and on average pupils remain 0.8 months behind where they would be expected to be in a typical pre-pandemic year
  • Secondary aged pupils have seen an increase in total learning loss compared with the summer term, and on average are now 2.4 months behind pre-pandemic expectations
  • In primary maths, the gap has reduced between Summer 2021 and Autumn 2021 suggesting a level of recovery has continued into the new academic year. That being said, the overall learning loss remains larger than reading at 1.9 months 
  • The gap in learning loss between disadvantaged pupils and their more affluent peers in reading has widened since summer for both primary and secondary pupils 


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

All of the published reports can be found in the Government’s research area found here

To support the interpretation of this research, Renaissance has put together blog posts summarising the findings of each report: 

Our panel discussion with EPI and two Headteachers on how this research was done, what was found and how schools could use it was delivered on 1st July 2021. Request a recording of this webinar here

Two opinion pieces co-written by Renaissance’s John Moore and EPI’s Natalie Perera were published on SchoolsWeek to further expand on the research  

Want to compare your data to the national picture?  

Renaissance has prepared a guide and a supporting document for you to compare your school’s Star Scaled Scores for reading or maths to the national picture.

More information on the Renaissance Star Assessments used for this research can be found here.