Section 3 – What the evidence tells us
Research from the London School of Economics Centre for Economic Performance suggests that unexpected temporary school closures and reduced instruction time will reduce educational achievement, both in the short and long term, and that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are likely to be affected more than others. Research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies in England supported this finding, reporting that children from more deprived backgrounds have less access to in-home learning resources and that their parents feel less confident in supporting them. The Children's Parliament 'How Are You Doing' wellbeing survey (children aged 8-14) reported that being indoors more and learning at home also impacts on the physical and mental health of children.
No matter how well planned in-home learning is, it is not the same as having effective learning and teaching within the school environment, led by teachers. A recent online survey by Connect in Scotland found that parents are generally confident about supporting their children in terms of health and wellbeing but less confident about supporting literacy and (to a greater extent) numeracy. The Connect survey also found that 59% of parents responding had at least one concern about the current situation, ranging from children falling behind in their learning and not engaging with work at home to concerns about the health and wellbeing of their children.
At transition points, e.g. nursery to primary, or primary to secondary, we know that our most vulnerable learners, such as pupils with additional support needs and Looked After Children, are likely to require enhanced support. The transition period can be a critical stage where identified learners need a programme which includes personal and social development, to ensure smooth progress into the next stage of learning.
Scientific evidence on Covid-19 and how it behaves in children is continuing to evolve. Scientists are clear that there are some aspects that are not well understood, in particular the extent to which the virus is transmitted by and between children. However, there is general consensus that the severity of the illness amongst younger children in particular is generally less than amongst adults. Modelling at both the UK and Scotland level suggests that there is scope for relaxing some restrictions on education over the coming weeks and months. Implementing measures to control the spread of the virus, such as increased hygiene and, where appropriate, use of physical distancing or small groupings of children, can reduce the overall risk inherent in reopening to more children.