The Institute for Public Policy Research has highlighted (1996) that:

‘all pupils fall behind academically due to the six week break.’

According to the research, on average, students’ achievement scores reduced by one month’s worth of school-year learning over the summer break with greater reductions for maths than reading.

They also found that the decline was greater in the higher school years and that the lack of development increases for children from a poorer background due to a lack of access to educational material or activities compared to their more privileged peers.

In fact, it is estimated that 66% of the achievement gap (between high achievers and low achievers) is primarily caused by summer learning loss (McGrath Hawkhurst, 2016).

Many teachers will testify that when students return in September, it usually takes up to 6 weeks to re-teach skills and knowledge that pupils have ‘forgotten’ over the summer break (McGrath Hawkhurst, 2016).

In addition, children perform best with structure and a routine – and when this removed for 6 weeks, children find it hard to readapt to  the learning structure when they return to school in September (McGrath Hawkhurst, 2016). Consequently, this means that pupils only really begin learning new concepts from about October half term – losing a whole half term due to the ‘summer slide.’


Dr James Lane, Director of Education for Pora Ora, states that ‘learning slips dramatically(2012) and this has ‘negative consequences in later life, and must be dealt with immediately.’

Dr Lane (2012) says that parents need to take accountability and action so that their child doesn’t fall behind over the summer.

“Summer holidays are one of the key areas to focus on for parents, and it is time to address this problem before the consequences become worse. The more the summer slide is addressed by the government, schools and parents, the stronger a future our children will have.” (Lane, 2012)

In our next article, we will discuss methods parents can use to support your child’s learning during the summer holidays.

Cooper H., Nye B., Charlton K., Lindsay J., Greathouse S. (1996). The effects of summer vacation on achievement test scores: A narrative and meta-analytic review. Review of Educational Research, 66(3), 227–268.
Gallagher, S. (2016). Summer Learning Loss: Should Parents Really Be Worried?. [online] HuffPost UK. Available at: [Accessed 2 May 2018].