School Closures Rapid Evidence Assessment
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to school closures across the UK and many countries across the world. This means that the majority of pupils in these systems are out of school, though supported and taught in various ways. Nevertheless, it is likely that school closures will lead to slower rates of learning, perhaps learning loss, and there is a risk that the negative impact will be worse for pupils who are economically disadvantaged.
In this context a number of researchers and policy organisations have produced quick analyses of the potential impact of the school closures (e.g. Sims, 2020; Burgess and Sievertsen, 2020; Kuhfeld, & Tarasawa, 2020). These are impressive in their speed and relevance for policy thinking, but they highlight the diversity and potentially contested nature of the evidence that may be relevant. A rapid evidence assessment seeks to address this heterogeneity by ensuring that, as far as possible, all relevant evidence has been captured and considered. We believe the most recent systematic review of the evidence on summer learning loss is Cooper et al’s 1996 study, and have not found any systematic review that covers the impact of other types of school closure (e.g. due to epidemics, adverse weather, etc).
The urgency of the pandemic means that this review needs to be conducted quickly. The review aims to summarise the evidence on the impact of school closures to give policymakers an indication of the likely size of the learning loss due to Covid-19 closures, both in its overall effect and its effect on the attainment gap between disadvantaged learners and others. This may help policymakers to plan the scale and nature of both mitigation and compensation strategies.