Disadvantaged children have fallen behind in maths by an extra month since the start of the pandemic, a study suggests.

Research from Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) charity has found that the gap between poorer primary school pupils and their more affluent classmates has grown in maths since schools were first closed due to Covid.

Blackburn has the highest child poverty levels in the North West, with 39.1 per cent of families living in poverty according to Loughborough University.

While the hardest hit was taken by children falling behind in the first lockdown, the gap did not widen or shrank during the autumn term when schools fully reopened.

Researchers suggest that the disadvantage gaps are proving challenging to close in primary schools and are unlikely to narrow without intervention.

Julie Gunn, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, said that this kind of disadvantage gap is 'not acceptable' for children.

She said: "It's not just about having access to a device, the number of people having access to it is a problem as well.

"Families that might not think of themselves as struggling - suddenly when all family members are using that device you discover it's a problem.

"I welcome the research because any kind of evidence showing that children are struggling can only lead to improvements."

Despite the issues in maths, research found no discernible change to the disadvantage gap in reading. The findings also highlight the difficulty of tackling educational inequality in classrooms.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already made £1.7 billion of catch-up funding available in England to help children who have faced disruption from school and college closures due to Covid-19.

EEF chairman Sir Peter Lampl is calling for significant Government funding to mitigate against the long-term impact of school closures as he warns failing to act now will be “catastrophe” for disadvantaged children.

Sir Peter said: “The research indicates the need for long-term, sustained support for schools as they work to accelerate the progress of their disadvantaged pupils.

“To mitigate against the long-term impact of lost learning, large government funding is required. The cost of failing to act now will be a catastrophe for young people from low-income homes.”