• Hannah Charles

Lockdown learning according to children

The coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the lives of everyone. For children in particular, education and socialising is key and throughout this time both have been disrupted. Although the third national lockdown was only introduced on the 5th January, resulting in school closures, these changes follow 10 months of disruption bought about by the pandemic. Currently, about 14% of pupils in England are receiving in-person teaching; these include children of key workers and the most vulnerable pupils, whilst other pupils are learning remotely at home.


Ofsted have warned that many children are struggling to stay focused on their studies, particularly in this current lockdown, with home learning being stated as 'a poor replacement for normal classroom practice'. Research has shown that children learning remotely are not doing as much schoolwork as they would in regular term time. It has also shown the disruption being caused to children’s learning throughout the pandemic: nearly half of parents who took part in the Ofsted survey were struggling to keep children focused, and almost two-thirds of parents of pupils with special educational needs said their children were disengaged from remote learning. Chief inspector Amanda Spielman has stated “While remote education will help to mitigate the learning lost when children are out of the classroom, it's clear that pupils' motivation and engagement remains an issue. This, along with the pressure remote learning places on teachers and parents, is proving a real barrier to children's learning and development”.


In our recent kids and youth tracker, we asked kids aged 7-22 what schooling had been like for them during lockdowns and the pandemic in general (fieldwork was conducted in Nov 2020). We found that while the routine of having lessons can be reassuring in a time of so much uncertainty, they did have difficulties with home-schooling. Some schools’ plans were more structured than others, and kids who were from a lower affluence background tended to have less structure and support. Uncertainty around exams and their cancellation also led to young people worrying about their future – the older teenagers in our sample tended to report being impacted the most, whether it was their exam grades, university life, or prospects post-education in the world of work. There is no doubt that younger kids’ prospects will also be impacted by the series of lockdowns.


We can help companies and providers to learn more about what children as well as parents and teachers really need in these times. Our most recent tracker wave looked at young people’s lives on a variety of topics, including how they’d previously tackled online learning during lockdowns and how they were feeling. To find out more about our insights into the world of young people, contact Helen or Afra (helen@discoveryres.co.uk and afra@discoveryres.co.uk).