Education Endowment Foundation:The Big Lockdown Learning Parent Survey

The Big Lockdown Learning Parent Survey

Exploratory study aiming to provide insights into primary school parent’s and children’s experiences of remote learning

The Big Lockdown Learning Parent Survey was an exploratory study aiming to provide insights into parents’ perceptions of the success of home learning. The study was developed rapidly in response to the announcement in January 2021 that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, school attendance would be limited to vulnerable children and children of key workers. Two thousand three hundred and six parents from 86 state maintained primary schools took part in this study and were asked to answer 2 – 5 questions per day about their experiences of home learning using the survey app, Parent Ping. Teachers from the same schools responded to a one-off survey about their remote teaching approaches.

Research from the first instance of remote learning in 2020 suggested that provision of, and engagement with, remote education varied widely between both schools and families. However, limited evidence was available about how different remote learning practices adopted by schools related to the experiences of parents and children, or to the quality of children’s learning. When another period of remote learning was announced in January 2021, the Education Endowment Foundation and Education Intelligence Limited collaborated with the aim of measuring parents’ perceptions of the success of home learning, and how parents’ perceptions are associated with socio-demographic characteristics, home experiences, and school practices.

The study found that there was little variation between schools or socio-demographic groups in how successful parents perceived home learning to be. Families eligible for free school meals, single parent families and families with more than one child did report slightlyless positive perceptions of the success of home learning than other families, but most socio-demographic characteristics were not strongly associated with the perceived success of learning at home.

This study identified a number of areas that would benefit from further research. It was noted that fixed daily routines for work submission, specific and frequent feedback from teachers, and the use of live’ instruction were associated with slightly more positive parental perceptions of home learning success.Future research could explore what parents and children like and dislike about these remote learning approaches and whether these practices are also associated with improved learning outcomes. The study also highlights four key challenges faced by families, which were strongly associated with lower perceived success of home learning: insufficient access to technological devices, difficulties combining home schooling with other commitments, children having a lower ability to work independently, and parents struggling to understand work set or feeling low confidence in their ability to support their children’s learning. In the event of future periods of remote learning, it would be valuable for school leaders and policy makers to prioritise supporting families to navigate these challenges.

  1. On average, there was little variation between schools in how successful parents perceived home learning to be. However, there was considerable variation between families in perceptions of home learning success. This suggests that most schools are likely to have a mixture of families that coped well with home learning and those who found it more difficult, regardless of the type of home learning provision schools put in place.
  2. Families eligible for free school meals, single parent families, and families with more than one child reported less positive perceptions of the success of home learning than other families. However, most socio-demographic characteristics were not strongly associated with the perceived success of learning at home.
  3. Fixed daily routines for work submission, specific and frequent feedback from teachers, and the use of live’ instruction were associated with slightly more positive parental perceptions of home learning success. Live instruction was very popular with parents, with 74% reporting that they would want the school to provide it in the event of another lockdown.
  4. This study identified four key challenges faced by families that were strongly associated with lower perceptions of the success of home learning: insufficient access to technological devices, difficulties combining home schooling with other commitments, children having lower perseverance for independent work, and parents struggling to understand the work set or feeling low confidence in their ability to support their children’s learning. Parents who reported these challenges reported less positive perceptions about their children’s home learning success.