Researching learning loss: our work with EPI and DfE

By Renaissance UK,

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented the biggest challenges our education sector has seen this half of the century. The sector as a whole had to quickly respond to school closures by transitioning to blended learning. We have all seen this prolonged period of closure bring out the best in the education profession with practitioners and providers alike sharing ideas, resources and support.

This swift transition to ‘remote’ and blended learning didn’t happen without its challenges. Most children have already lost almost five months of formal schooling and the risk of further lockdowns and disruption still looms large. Disadvantaged children, who were already over a year and a half behind their peers by the end of secondary, are likely to have suffered the most.

Education technology can transform pupils’ outcomes – now more than ever, we are committed to working with School, Trust and MAT leaders to help make data and insights easy to find, understand and take action on – not just for assessment but to tailor teaching and planning and motivate students.

Our research on Learning Loss

We are currently working with the Education Policy Institute (EPI) and the Department for Education (DfE) on research into the immediate and potential long-term impact of Covid-19 learning loss on students in England. At Renaissance, we have long known the role that valid, reliable assessment data can play in informing teaching and learning and we will look at data at three points in the year – in autumn, spring and summer – to measure the progress that pupils make this year and how that compares with previous cohorts. Our educational tools are rooted in research and best practice from education professionals, data scientists and experts in psychometrics – all to help improve outcomes and accelerate learning.

Our research will bring together data and insight, with Star customer’s analysis survey results to learn more about the response to Covid-19. By acquiring information about approaches schools are taking – and how they are supporting pupils to catch up – we will be building the evidence base in this crucial policy area and learn vital lessons for potential repeated disruption, both from this pandemic and from any other instances which result in an interruption to learning.

By comparing attainment among different groups of pupils to that of their peers at a similar stage in previous years, we will be able to get a picture of Covid-specific disruption, and account for any trends in performance that are not related to disruption caused by the pandemic. Renaissance Star Assessments for reading and maths are computer-adaptive, so an entire class can be screened in as little as 20 minutes – with instant results and differentiation. Star features one scale and a huge item bank of questions, which means that the same test can be used from Reception to the end of Secondary education.

Identifying Focus Skills

The assessments taken by each pupil are personalised and include the Student Growth Percentile measure so teachers can know exactly if those students are making expected progress. By assessing pupils in this way, we can utilise the built-in Learning Progressions and Focus Skills™ to help teachers identify where students are in the curriculum and what they should be learning next. Built by experts at the National Foundation of Educational Research (NFER), Focus Skills are the foundational skills that are essential to advance learning and support the development of future skills. In order to support schools as they reopen and in keeping with our mission to ‘Accelerate Learning for All’, we recently published Focus Skills Teacher Workbooks for Literacy and Maths, which list these essential skills by year group and show how they relate to the national curriculum.

The research will explore a number of questions such as which groups have been disproportionately affected? What is the impact on different year groups and pupils from different regions? Are local lockdowns continuing to have a negative impact on learning, or have pupils made up for lost time in education? There will be a focus on discovering what intervention has been most effective and can we see signs of recovery?

This research will provide schools, academics and MATs with the relevant insights they need to form future strategies and tailor learning effectively to minimise the impact of Covid-19.

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

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