Our most disadvantaged pupils face a barrage of adversity, made worse by the pandemic.
Children are disengaging from school at frightening pace: 30 per cent of teachers saw truancy rise in autumn 2020 and disadvantaged children fare worst. These pupils already faced an 18-month GCSE attainment gap before Covid, which will 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 individuals. Youth crime is ripping through our communities and as gangs continue to exploit generation Covid, more will join the roster of 27,000 children who currently self-identify as gang members.
An extended school day, with access to extra-curricular activity, would temper these challenges and support a more rounded education.