Most teachers believe that disadvantaged students will fall further behind now exams have returned, a survey from a social mobility charity has claimed.

As reported by The Independent a new report by Sutton Trust has revealed worries the long-standing attainment gap will get even wider this year with the return of GCSE and A-level exams.

It suggested that 72% of teachers polled thought disadvantaged pupils at their school would fall further behind more affluent peers this year.

Nearly 29% thought there would be a “moderate” increase in the attainment gap, while 19% thought it would be “substantial”, according to a survey of more than 4,000 teachers.

It comes after the attainment gap appeared to widen during last year’s GCSE and A-level results, with private schools seeing a greater rise in the number of top grades.

Herald Series: Teachers are worried disadvantaged pupils will fall behind more affluent peers (PA)Teachers are worried disadvantaged pupils will fall behind more affluent peers (PA)

Additionally, the report suggested that disadvantaged students had less experience in taking exams in a formal setting compared to better-off peers ahead of this year’s exam season.

A-level pupils’ experience likely depended on mock exams, with their GCSEs cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.

The Sutton Trust said in its new report: “Students who have not sat a formal exam before may have found their exams this summer more daunting, which could potentially impact their performance and thus their final grades."

Tom Middlehurst from the Association of School and College Union said education in the Covid pandemic had been “extremely challenging” for all involved, with illness and isolation affecting students and staff over the past two years.

“The great danger is that the disruption will have badly affected disadvantaged students in particular and that the gap between them and other students will widen in this year’s set of results,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “In recognition of the disruption students have faced, we worked with Ofqual to put in place a number of adaptations to exams this year. It is encouraging to see that over three quarters of those applying for university found the advanced exam information helpful.

They added: “To help students get back on track we have invested nearly £5bn, with over two million tutoring courses already started through the National Tutoring Programme, across an estimated 80 per cent of schools.”