Our most disadvantaged pupils face a barrage of adversity, made worse by the pandemic

Children are disengaging from school at frightening pace: in autumn 2020, the number of pupils who were severely absent soared by 54.7 per cent year-on-year. Disadvantaged pupils already faced an 18-month GCSE attainment gap before Covid, which could now grow. Mental health problems are spiralling – the rate of probable disorders among children rose from 1 in 9 in 2017 to 1 in 6 in 2020. One in five young people is obese by age 17, a problem that is particularly acute for disadvantaged children. Youth crime is ripping through our communities and as gangs continue to exploit generation Covid, more could join the roster of 27,000 children who currently self-identify as gang members.

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