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AoC responds to EPI report on Covid and the disadvantage gap

15 December 2022

Responding to the Education Policy Institute's (EPI) Covid-19 and Disadvantage Gaps in England 2021 report, David Hughes, AoC Chief Executive said: "Colleges are rightly proud of the work they do to open up opportunities for students who need more support to achieve and progress but this work needs to be properly funded. This important report from EPI shines a light on the link between disadvantage and student performance, showing how the existing disadvantage grade gap grew in both 2020 and 2021.

"While everyone has been affected by the global pandemic, these impacts have not been experienced equally and we know that student poverty and disadvantage are now at crisis levels. From the outset of Covid, AoC consistently highlighted the many ways that disadvantage and funding reductions have combined to widen existing achievement gaps.

"We support the report’s recommendations for a 16 to 19 student disadvantage premium to mirror the pre-16 pupil premium. We have been making this case for some time. It is vitally important to target more resources towards the most disadvantaged 16 to 19-year-olds and we welcomed the post-16 tuition fund and the additional funded hours made available this year as a positive start.

"These recommendations are important but sit alongside the basic need for overall 16 to 19 funding to be increased at least back to 2010 levels. Funding per student in colleges will still be lower in 2024 than in 2010 despite increases due over the next two years.

"We agree there is an urgent need for an effective cross-governmental anti-poverty strategy. Education on its own cannot solve all the social consequences of disadvantage. Poverty blights people’s lives, narrows opportunities and does long-term damage which is felt across society. Only a concerted and joined-up approach can address the problem."

Notes to editors

A copy of the full report can be found here.