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Inequality, unfairness and chaos in the Conservatives’ response to education in the pandemic

Labour (@UKLabour) is warning the Conservatives have baked inequality, unfairness and chaos into the education system throughout the pandemic with a growing attainment gap in A-level results showing the impact of the Conservative mismanagement of education.

Opening yesterday’s results, students on free school meals were 28% less likely to receive an A grade than their peers, while black students were 25% less likely to receive an A grade than their white counterparts.

Labour is warning that the Government has treated children as an afterthought throughout the pandemic, abandoning those on free school meals and in disadvantaged areas.

Conservative policies during the pandemic have seen:

  • Children on free school meals going hungry as they failed to provide free meals over October half term, then allowed providers to deliver shockingly inadequate food parcels to families 
  • Millions left without the ability to learn from home, as they failed to deliver laptops and data to families who needed them 
  • Students in disadvantaged areas with downgraded results in 2020 and left behind this year 
  • Half a million children leaving school this year with no support for their academic and wellbeing recovery, and the resignation of the Government’s own education ‘tzar’ over their ‘feeble’ recovery plans 
  • U-turn after U-turn on school closures, including the fiasco of schools opening for just one day after Christmas 

As grades have increased, pupils on free school meals are being increasingly outstripped by their more advantaged peers with the attainment gap in the number receiving A grades growing by 26% over the last four years.

This analysis comes after news that 70% of private school pupils were awarded an A or A* grade compared with 38% of state school students, a gap which has grown 29% since 2018.

To support pupils in the state sector who have been hit hardest by disruption to their educations over the last year, Labour is calling on the Government to adopt the Party’s comprehensive Children’s Recovery Plan to help every child bounce back from the pandemic.  The Government has committed a pathetic education recovery package worth just a tenth of what their own expert education adviser said was need and criticised by him as “too small, too narrow and too slow.”

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“Under the Conservatives we’ve seen inequality, unfairness and chaos baked into our education system with pupils in state schools, on free school meals or in disadvantaged areas being neglected by this government.

“Inequalities in A-level grades have soared over the last four years and this is simply unacceptable.

“Labour’s bold recovery plan would invest in our children’s futures, compensating for the Conservatives’ failures over the last year, to ensure all children can learn, play and develop after the pandemic. The Conservatives’ need to match Labour’s ambition for our children’s learning and their futures.”


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