New: EEF commissions research on the impact of Covid-19 school and nursery closures

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has today announced three new research studies designed to provide greater understanding of the strategies schools put in place to support pupils throughout Covid-19 closures, and the impact of these approaches on the disadvantage gap. 

In June, the EEF published a rapid evidence assessment which concluded starkly that school closures will have reversed a decade’s progress in closing the disadvantage gap. However, the unprecedented circumstances of Covid-19 mean the evidence base remains limited.

Three new studies have been commissioned to help address that evidence gap, providing robust estimates of the changes to the disadvantage gap among primary-age children, as well as uniquely detailed information on how schools are supporting pupils’ wellbeing and learning this academic year.

The three projects announced by the EEF are:

1. A team led by FFT aims to provide the earliest robust estimate of the change in the disadvantage gap pre- and post-lockdown, as well as analysing strategies associated with mitigating a widening gap, focused on pupils in Years 2 to 6 in 145 primary schools. Find out more about this project here

2. The National Foundation for Educational Research will assess the extent to which Key Stage 1 pupils’ attainment in reading and maths has been impacted by school closures, and particularly the effect on disadvantaged pupils. 158 schools will provide detailed information on the types of support individual pupils are receiving this year, as well as whole-school strategies - such as small-group work, tutoring, parental engagement - which will be uniquely important in trying to understanding the impact of different responses for disadvantaged groups. Find out more here

3. The University of YorkNIESR and EPI will assess the impact of lockdown on the school readiness of new Reception children across England and their educational attainment and socio-emotional wellbeing over their first year of education. Find more information here.

Professor Becky Francis, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), said:

Covid-19 closures of schools and nurseries have highlighted once again the complex challenges in tackling educational disadvantage, and the extraordinary efforts of educators to respond.

This new research has two important aims. First, to better understand the extent to which the attainment gap is likely to have widened in the past six months. Secondly, to identify what approaches schools and teachers are taking to support their pupils – and which of these hold the greatest promise for improved learning and wellbeing outcomes for children.

As ever, our focus is on providing schools with practical evidence they are able to apply in their context and which will have particular benefit for disadvantaged pupils. In addition, we are providing practical support through our leadership of the Tuition Partners provision within the wider National Tutoring Programme.