Literacy and Numeracy: Coronavirus

(asked on 1st March 2021) - View Source

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what role the new Education Recovery Commissioner will play in helping to close the attainment gap in reading and maths between pupils in schools with high levels of disadvantage and those in schools in more affluent areas.

Answered by
Baroness Berridge Portrait
Baroness Berridge
This question was answered on 15th March 2021

The objectives of the Education Recovery Commissioner, as outlined in the Terms of Reference, are to advise on the design and implementation of potential interventions that will help pupils to catch up on lost education due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Terms of Reference for the Education Recovery Commissioner are published here:,approach%20for%20education%20recovery%2C%20with%20a%20particular%20focus.

The department will continue to assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on pupils and their catch-up needs to help target support across the system effectively.

Our national network of 40 school-led Maths Hubs aims to help local schools improve the quality of their mathematics teaching based on best practice. The Maths Hubs programme aims to improve attainment gaps, which may be associated with disadvantage, gender, or other factors, and the programme’s capacity has been substantially expanded in the geographical areas where it is needed most.

Maths Hubs deliver our £100 million Teaching for Mastery programme, which is focused on depth of understanding, and is characterised by whole-class teaching where pupils work on the same content together ensuring no one gets left behind. It encourages all pupils with the belief that by working hard at mathematics they can succeed and rejects the idea that some pupils “can’t do maths”.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, Maths Hubs have continued to offer support and training to schools across the country by bringing much of their offer online. The department has also funded the development of free expert resources to support maths teaching, including a range of materials now available from the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Maths, as well publishing new guidance to support curriculum planning and prioritisation in primary schools.


In 2018, the department launched a £26.3 million English Hubs programme dedicated to improving the teaching of reading, particularly for disadvantaged children. We have since invested a further £17 million in this school-to-school improvement programme, which focuses on systematic synthetic phonics, early language, and reading for pleasure. We have appointed 34 primary schools across England as English Hubs. The English Hubs programme is supporting nearly 3000 schools across England to improve their teaching of reading through systematic synthetic phonics, early language development, and reading for pleasure. The English Hubs are focused on improving educational outcomes for the most disadvantaged pupils in Reception and Year 1.

The overall programme is aimed at improving the teaching of early reading across England. In this early delivery stage, we are focusing on systematic synthetic phonics, but our hubs will start to deliver medium-level support in all three priority areas: improving the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics; encouraging early language development; and developing a love of reading. For early language development, hubs will focus on providing evidence-based approaches to early language development and closing the word gap in Year Reception and Year 1, including appropriate use of formative assessment.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, English Hubs have continued to offer support and training to schools across the country by bringing much of their offer online.

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