![alt text](/filestore/BlogImage/27fd9f24-35b0-4256-9e41-783cfab70645/841ee385-6433-48c3-becd-329f8bfc892celement5-digital-OyCl7Y4y0Bk-unsplash.jpg "learning gaps") Photo by [Element5 Digital](https://unsplash.com/@element5digital) on [Unsplash](https://unsplash.com/) **Year 5/6 Teacher and English and Curriculum Lead, Sophie Bartlett [@__MissieBee](https://twitter.com/_MissieBee), shares her thoughts on how to identify and address learning gaps ahead of the 2022/23 academic year.** Learning gaps post-SATs 2022 ---------------------------- Since the SATs began assessing the new National Curriculum in 2016, results had been on the rise – until this year. Apart from reading (up by 1% from 73% in 2019 to 74% in 2022), the percentage of pupils meeting the expected standards in the other subjects has decreased by: - 8% in maths (71% in 2022, down from 79% in 2019) - 9% in writing (69% in 2022, down from 78% in 2019) - 6% in combined reading, writing and maths (59% in 2022, down from 65% in 2019) - 6% in grammar, punctuation and spelling (72% in 2022, down from 78% in 2019) This was surely to be expected considering the disruption across two academic years (2019-20 and 2020-21). However, it could be argued that our jobs are now more difficult than ever as all teachers attempt to make up the progress that has been lost. We have just completed our first full academic year in three years – we can’t pretend that that’s not had a huge impact on children and where they were ‘expected’ to be prior to this. Learning gaps are perhaps more prevalent than ever. Luckily, there are ways we can address these. What are learning gaps? ----------------------- Imagine the definition of learning gaps like a subtraction: **‘What children are expected to know’ – ‘What children actually know’ = Learning gap** The National Curriculum has clearly laid out expectations of what children should be taught by certain ages. This is particularly clear in the curriculum for both maths and science, where the primary objectives are split into six stages: each year group from Years 1-6 has its own set of objectives for these two subjects. In the English curriculum, the objectives are split into four stages: Year 1, Year 2, Lower KS2, and Upper KS2. Some subjects have even fewer distinct stages – for example, the objectives for geography and history are only split into two stages entirely: KS1 and KS2. We all know how difficult it can be to try to fit everything in one academic year, particularly with subjects like maths and science, where there seems to be so much to cover. This is made even more clear in Year 6, where there’s pressure to teach all the Year 6 maths content – and revise any content from previous year groups – in two months’ less time than the rest of the school. This is tricky in normal circumstances, let alone circumstances where children have missed large chunks of school – and therefore curriculum coverage – due to Covid. This situation seems to have created two types of learning gaps. ---------------------------------------- **Related content** [Ready To Progress: a guide and free resources](https://www.lbq.org/Blog/readytoprogress) [Improving Reading at Greater Depth](https://www.lbq.org/Blog/greater-depth-reading) [9 'get to know your class' activities, by Sophie Bartlett](https://www.lbq.org/Blog/get-to-know-your-class-activities) ____ ##The two types of learning gaps ### Group learning gaps Group learning gaps are where an entire cohort of children have missed out on a certain topic because of a chunk of time out of school, e.g. Year 5 missed learning about improper fractions in Year 4, so this will need to be taught in Year 5 before moving on to mixed numbers. Whole group learning gaps are, quite clearly, much easier to address. It does mean that the curriculum may need to be rejigged in order to fit extra units of work in, but there is no point trying to skip things and plough on as normal – these units are planned in an order for a reason. Children cannot move on to the next area of learning without having the proper foundations. For example, this year, I have not been able to cover the entire Year 5 maths curriculum as I have had to teach a number of Year 4 objectives – this of course has a knock-on effect, as the children will then have to be taught those leftover Year 5 units in Year 6; however, as we’ve previously discussed, we cannot miss out any stepping stones in their learning! ### Individual learning gaps Individual learning gaps occur when an individual has missed out on a topic or objective due to absence, e.g. child X missed two maths lessons in a row about factors, and is now missing important prior knowledge required in order to learn about prime numbers. Individual learning gaps are much tricker, but they have always been present, before and after Covid. Children are often absent and missing vital parts of a unit of work, and we address this as we usually would – plugging gaps during assembly times, interventions or re-teaching in class. How can we identify learning gaps? ---------------------------------- Your school may already have an assessment system set up to pass on to the next teacher with information about which children, or groups of children, haven’t covered certain areas of the curriculum. However, this is often difficult to track with any sort of precision (particularly individual learning gaps) and the information may not be available to you anyway. ### Formative assessment As with any lesson, you’ll be able to identify any potential learning gaps amongst the children through your usual formative assessment techniques. You may also consider administering some tests – or ‘quizzes’ (!) – to the children near the start of term, either from the previous or current year group. Completing some QLA (question-level analysis) on these would point you specifically towards the areas on which the children are weaker. Also remember to communicate with the previous year group teacher too. Even if they did not keep any sort of tracking paperwork, they will know the children really well and may remember specific gaps each child has! ###Learning by Questions Learning by Questions (LbQ) is a particularly useful tool for identifying learning gaps. Let’s take maths as an example (where arguably learning gaps are most obvious) – LbQ has a task available for every National Curriculum objective for every KS2 year group. As suggested in [this blog](https://www.lbq.org/Blog/get-to-know-your-class-activities) as a start-of-year activity, choose whichever topic you’re going to teach first (perhaps place value) and set a task on LbQ from a year or two below the one you’re teaching (i.e. if you’re teaching Year 5, choose a Year 3 or 4 task). For the majority of children, it should give a sense of success (as hopefully, they’ll be able to answer most of the questions being from an age group lower than their own) but also give you a good idea of where any gaps might be so you can address them accordingly in your upcoming lessons. ![alt text](/filestore/BlogImage/27fd9f24-35b0-4256-9e41-783cfab70645/fafdfc64-91d9-484a-b9a7-a70a00b26498TheLbQresultsmatrix.JPG "Identifying gaps with Learning by Questions") Teachers can identify learning gaps during the lesson with the Learning by Questions Results Matrix. [This video](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yu1Tlkv3S18) shows you how it works. ## How do we address learning gaps? As previously mentioned, group learning gaps are easier to address through whole-class lessons (or even an entire unit if required). Individual learning gaps will require targeted interventions during time out of class – ideally not during the subject the gap itself is in (e.g. if a child needs to learn about factors, don’t remove them from a maths lesson!). These would ideally be led by a teacher, who can re-teach the lesson/objective missed in a 1:1 or small group setting; if this isn’t possible, a TA could do this if they are adequately prepared. This first half-term is an ideal time to start a [free 6-week LbQ trial](https://www.lbq.org/TryLbQ). As you begin new topics in multiple subjects, LbQ can be used to identify group and individual learning gaps in these topics. LbQ can then also be used to address these gaps: * for individual gaps, by teaching and/or setting tasks based on a singular objective during an appropriate intervention time. * for group gaps, by using the tasks to teach and consolidate the areas of learning required. It’s an extremely straightforward and systematic way of ensuring you are covering the curriculum appropriately and providing children with the appropriate foundations for the next steps of their learning. _Learning by Questions harnesses the power of continuous formative assessment and immediate feedback in the classroom. It contains an online library of award-winning resources, written by experienced teachers, with extensive National Curriculum coverage of English, maths and science objectives. Grab yourself free access to LbQ's entire resource library for 6 weeks [here](https://www.lbq.org/TryLbQ).