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England’s largest review of Covid-19 impact on schools finds 99 per cent of teachers report pupils need additional support to ‘catch up’

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A new report by school stakeholder surveying company, Edurio, comprising of over 45,000 pupils, parents and staff members from 277 schools, has found almost all (99 per cent) teachers surveyed believed their pupils will need additional support to catch up, with eight out of 10 teachers reporting the attainment gap for their pupils had increased.

Almost half of teacher respondents (four out of 10) stated that the gap had increased significantly, with 99 per cent of teachers reporting that their pupils will need additional support to catch up. The results from secondary schools were materially worse than for primaries, with less than a third of Year 10-13 students reporting they are making good progress.

The review, conducted throughout June and July 2020, investigated the impact that Covid-19 has had on schools, to better understand the common challenges facing schools across the country. Respondents were questioned on four key elements of school resilience – learning, wellbeing, community, and leadership.

In addition to the growing attainment gap, the study highlighted several wellbeing concerns in schools; over half of parents (55 per cent) reported seeing their child stressed or anxious more often than usual, 29 per cent of pupils admitted to feeling overworked, and 37 per cent reported feeling stressed on a regular basis.

On the other hand, communication clarity and decision-making by school leadership was rated favourably, with 85 per cent of staff members and 79 per cent of parents reporting that decisions made by the school leadership team and the expectations from staff were clear last term.

Leora Cruddas, CEO at Confederation of School Trusts, said:

“This important research from Edurio captures how schools have responded to Covid-19. With deep dives into learning, wellbeing, community, leadership and safety, this report is an important social and educational artefact.

“It is heartening to see that seven out of 10 parents surveyed gave an overall positive response to schools’ handling of Covid-19 during lockdown. However, the report also highlights some of the challenges that schools will face in the new academic year.”

Ernest Jenavs, co-author of the research report and CEO of Edurio, said:

“It’s incredibly important to assess the quantitative impact of Covid-19 on staff, pupils and parents across the country, in order to help us better understand the current challenges and opportunities in the sector. The insight gained will help school leaders make informed decisions to safeguard future teaching and learning and ensure no pupil is left behind.

“We have seen a real appreciation for the tireless efforts and hard work of school leaders during this difficult time, and this has been matched by a sense of ambition to rise to this new challenge together.”

Additional findings in the report, revealed that: 

  • 79 per cent of teachers reported that supporting pupils in lockdown who already had low attainment was either quite or very difficult.
  • Nearly half (43 per cent) of parents reported they were not confident about their child making progress last term.
  • Overall, 87 per cent of staff and 72 per cent of parents reported they were happy with their school’s handling of the Covid-19 disruption.
  • Whilst the majority (58 per cent) of pupils reported they had been coping quite to very well during lockdown, around one in eight (16 per cent) admitted they had been struggling.
  • Around half of pupils reported a lack of motivation (52 per cent) and difficulty in studying alone (50 per cent) as one of their main challenges last term.
  • Three quarters of teachers set tasks on digital platforms, with over half sharing video materials and 40 per cent teaching via online lessons.
  • 50 per cent of pupils and 46 per cent of parents reported they felt it was safe for pupils to be in school, with two thirds of staff members stating they felt safe to be in school.
  • There are wide-ranging differences in Covid-19 resilience across schools – while primary schools fared better than secondaries, the study found that school size and Ofsted grade did not have a material link with school performance.

Edurio will be publishing additional reports on the use of technology and lessons for school leaders over the coming months and will be carrying out further research on the impact of COVID-19 with both English and international schools.

Methodology: Over 45,000 stakeholders took part in the study (22,729 parents, 14,432 pupils and 8,177 staff members) across 277 schools in England, and the full report can be downloaded here.

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