SOME DORSET pupils are continuing to perform poorly – even before the pandemic forced school closures.

Latest figures show there has been a drop in academic achievement for children from disadvantaged families at key stage 1 and 2 compared to their peers for standards in reading, writing and maths.

A council report, published on Tuesday, indicates that there may be other reasons for some of the changes, including the way the figures are calculated, but, despite this,  concludes that many Dorset children are doing less well than their counterparts elsewhere: “the gap has increased, and is now larger than all regional and national comparators,” it says.

Figures for all pupils at key stage 2 for reading, writing and maths show Dorset youngsters  overall also performing below national averages.

For children from disadvantaged homes the figures are worse than their peers in every area, although there has been a slight improvement in the ‘attainment gap’ at key stage 2  for reading, writing and maths from 23 per cent in 2018 to 22 per cent in 2019. This figure measures the differences between children from disadvantaged homes and other pupils.

For 16 and 17 year olds the performance figures show an increase in the numbers not in education, employment or training to just under 3.5% for the first three months of the financial year, which started in April.

Councillors are being told that work has continued throughout the lockdown period to ensure that children in this age group were offered suitable opportunities to continue with their education during the period and when schools and colleges resumed, but it is feared that many older children will now be more reluctant to attend school or college having got out of the routine.

For care leavers in the same age group only just over half were in education, employment or training at the end of June, compared to 53 per cent a year previously.

The figures, which will go before the Dorset Council cabinet on September 8th, also show primary school exclusions increasing although the actual numbers remain low.

The secondary school age rate of exclusions remains below the national average at 4.5per cent although the figures indicate a rising trend with the percentage of all pupils with one of more fixed period of exclusion up from 1.4% at the time of the May 2019 school census, to 2.04% in January 2020, the latest figures available when the reports were compiled.