Impact of Covid-19 school closures and subsequent support strategies on attainment and socioemotional wellbeing in Key Stage 1

This project and its evaluation were affected by the 2020 and 2021 partial school closures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, some of the impact measurement collection has not been possible and the evaluation will not be completed as originally intended. The evaluation protocol is being updated and will be published here as soon as possible.

This project aims to assess the extent to which pupils’ attainment and socioemotional development in Year 1 and Year 2 has been impacted by school closures, and particularly the effect on disadvantaged pupils. Children of this age are relatively less able to learn independently and therefore could be disproportionately affected by closures. In particular, Year 1 pupils will have had very little reception year schooling, thus, missing out on crucial opportunities to develop socially and emotionally and to prepare for the transition from reception to KS1. It will also explore which support strategies at school- and pupil-level have been implemented by schools and the association with pupils’ learning progress over the course of the school year.

Impact of school closures on KS1: potential implications for practice in year 2 (February 2021)

This analysis, produced by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), looks at Year 2 pupils’ performance in maths and reading tests in November 2020 to identify common patterns, misconceptions and errors. It also considers potential implications for teacher practice and is intended to complement broader school efforts to support pupil wellbeing and ensure positive outcomes for children.

It forms part of an ongoing EEF-funded study assessing the extent to which Key Stage 1 pupils’ attainment in reading and maths are impacted by partial school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic, and particularly the effect on disadvantaged pupils.

Implication for practice analysis

Interim Paper: Impact of school closures and subsequent support strategies on attainment and socio-emotional wellbeing in Key Stage 1 (January 2021)

This interim report assesses the extent to which Key Stage 1 pupils’ attainment in reading and maths were impacted by partial school closures during the first national Covid-19 lockdown, and particularly the effect on disadvantaged pupils.

The paper focuses on the gap in attainment likely caused by March 2020 school closures (commonly called ‘learning loss’), and the disadvantage gap for Year 2 children as measured in autumn 2020. The results focus on assessments taken by Year 2 pupils (aged 6-7 and in their final year of Key Stage 1) in autumn term 2020 sat by nearly 6000 pupils in 168 schools.

The findings suggest that primary-age pupils have significantly lower achievement in both reading and maths as a likely result of missed learning. In addition, there is a large and concerning attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and non-disadvantaged pupils.

Interim school closure analysis

Why are we funding it?

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to school closures across the UK in March 2020, with the majority of pupils relying on remote learning and home schooling. School closures are likely to have an impact on all pupils’ learning, but there is a considerable risk that closures have the biggest impact on disadvantaged pupils. EEF’s rapid evidence assessment suggests that school closures could widen the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers and potentially reverse the progress made to narrow the gap since 2011. Schools are facing considerable challenges in the new academic year and strategies to support pupils will likely vary across pupils and schools.

How are we evaluating it?

NFER has been appointed to conduct this research project. To explore the impact on pupil attainment overall and in particular on the attainment gap, test data on maths and reading development will be collected at two time points for both year groups over the course of the school year. This data will be linked to detailed information provided by schools on school- and pupil-level strategies for support and recovery. A survey with teachers will be conducted at the beginning and at the end of the school year to assess pupils’ socioemotional wellbeing and development.

When will the evaluation report be due?

The report will be published in Spring 2022.