Impact of Covid-19 on primary school starters

This project aims to understand the experiences of school starters in September 2020; and if, and how, they are different from the experiences from previous cohorts. It also aims to give an indication of the factors influencing socio-emotional wellbeing and educational outcomes, including experience of the pandemic, home learning activities, family demographics and child socio-emotional wellbeing. Finally, the project will explore how teaching practices during the Reception year might have changed as a response to the pandemic, as this could give an indication of which approaches are associated with recovery.

person_add How you can get involved

Impact of Covid-19 on primary school starters is currently recruiting, register your interest using the contact information below.


Dr Louise Tracey, University of York:

Signup deadline

15th January, 2021

Key Stages

Early Years.

Additional Information

Particular focus is on the East Midlands, West Midlands, East of England, South East and South West. However, expressions of interest are also welcomed from schools outside these areas if not already undertaking an EEF research project in the early years or are happy to discuss further.

Deadline for data collection: 29 January 2021

Trial location

East Midlands, East of England, South East, South West, West Midlands.

  1. Updated: 5th November, 2020


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Why are we funding it?

It is well established that high-quality early years provision plays an important role in a child’s educational and socioemotional development, particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds where it can reduce educational inequalities. The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the closure of Early Years settings to most children, with data highlighting only 7% of children age 2-4 attending formal early years provision during lockdown. When lockdown eased in June almost half of parents reported their child was unlikely to return to provision that month, with occupancy surveys reporting similar findings. Children starting school following the pandemic are doing so after a period of instability and atypical environmental and social influences. 

How are we evaluating it?

The research team will collect data on reception pupils’ language, numeracy and socio-emotional development in November-December 2020 and again in June 2021. School and parent surveys undertaken at the same time points will help interpret the findings, in terms of experiences during lockdown, the home learning environment and school choices this academic year. Additional analysis using the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile will compare the outcomes of this year’s cohort of Reception pupils with that of previous years, including comparing the outcomes of pupils eligible for free school meals to estimate possible changes in the size of the disadvantage gap. 

When will the evaluation report be due?

The report will be published in Spring 2022. Interim thematic briefings will be published whenever information arises that could be of use to schools and parents to navigate the academic year.