School children need a 'close the gap’ strategy for school catch-up to close an educational gap widened by the pandemic, Labour have warned.

They have called on the government to give parents a “cast-iron guarantee” that no schoolchild will be left behind as a result of Covid.

The party has said that a national strategy, overseen by independent experts to measure performance, is needed to help ordinary British pupils keep pace with the most wealthy.

It comes as studies suggest the attainment gap between the most disadvantaged students and their peers has been significantly worsened by school closures.

Research from the National Foundation for Educational Research published on Tuesday showed a widening attainment gap, with pupils in deprived schools three times more likely to be four months behind in their studies than more affluent peers.

Kate Green has demanded action from ministers

Labour's Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green said the move was necessary after a “summer of incompetence” from the government.

She said:? “The Government’s incompetence this summer put a generation’s future at risk.

"Unless Ministers finally get a grip, with a national strategy for catch-up, many more children risk being robbed of their future.

“Parents need a cast-iron guarantee that any child who has fallen behind will get the support they need to catch up.

"We need independent oversight and transparency, to compare the gap between pupils in different parts of the country and against the pre-Covid generation.

“The last six months have been incredibly difficult for children and families across the country. No child should be left behind because of this crisis or government incompetence.”

It came as the Government was warned that cancelling exams and opting for calculated grades for students amid the Covid-19 pandemic would be the “worst-case scenario”.

Roger Taylor, chairman of the exams regulator Ofqual, said ministers decided to abandon GCSE and A-level exams after Ofqual suggested running socially-distanced exams or delaying tests, before cancelling them.

He told MPs that it was a “fundamental mistake” to believe Ofqual’s algorithm for awarding grades “would ever be acceptable to the public”.

His comments come amid continued anger about the handling of grading GCSE and A-level exams which were cancelled during the coronavirus crisis.

Ofqual’s controversial algorithm for awarding calculated grades had appeared to boost private schools’ performance and led to many other A-level students having their results downgraded following moderation.

But addressing the Education Select Committee, Mr Taylor insisted that the standardisation process “reduced the advantage enjoyed by private schools”.

Although he recognised the level of fairness “was not felt to be acceptable”.

Ministers and government departments, including Number 10, were repeatedly warned by Ofqual of the risks of the system, MPs heard.

Mr Taylor told MPs that Ofqual’s initial advice to the Secretary of State in March was to try and hold the summer exams in a “socially-distanced manner”, with the second option being to delay exams.

He said: “The third option – if neither of these were acceptable – would be to have to try and look at some form of calculated grade.

“We did also look at whether that might be a teacher certificate rather than attempting to replicate exam grades.

“That was our advice to ministers.

“It was the Secretary of State who then subsequently took the decision and announced without further consultation with Ofqual that exams were to be cancelled and the system of calculated grades were to be implemented.”

He said that opting for the third option of calculated grades was the “worst-case scenario”, adding that it was a “political decision”.