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. 

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.