Coronavirus (COVID-19): impact on children, young people and families - evidence summary October 2020

Summary of Scottish and UK evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of children and young people.

13. Education, learning and employment

Co-SPACE supplementary report 6 - Young people's concerns about school (UK-wide)

Source: Oxford University

Date: Sep 2020

This report provides cross-sectional data from 987 parents/carers of young people (aged 12-16) and 284 young people (aged 12-16) who completed the Co-SPACE survey within August, either as part of the initial survey or the monthly follow-up surveys. This report also provides longitudinal data from 142 parents/carers of young people (aged 15-16) who completed the survey in July and a follow-up survey in August. This is not a nationally representative sample and therefore cannot be generalised to the wider population of all young people. Key findings:

  • Young people aged 15-16 were more worried about academic pressure than children aged 12-14. This was consistent across parent-reported and self-reported data.
  • Over half of the 15-16-year olds reported feeling worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their job prospects and the economy.
  • From July to August, parents/carers reported an increase in young people's worries about their job prospects and the economy.
  • A higher percentage of 15-16-year olds from low income households (<£16,000 p.a.) were reported to have substantial worries about the academic pressure and lack of support in school work at this time, compared to higher income households.

'Lockdown lessons: pupil learning and wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic' (England)

Source: Impacted

Date: 14 Sep 2020

ImpactEd's published a second interim summary (May-July 2020) from this longitudinal research project, featuring analysis of responses from 11,400 young people from May to July. A full report will be published later this year which will combine findings from the research throughout lockdown with survey results and school data about pupils as they return to the physical classroom. The survey uses validated scales for wellbeing but is not representative. Early key findings include:

  • Young people were positive about returning to school. However, girls were more concerned about school returns and reported lower wellbeing and higher anxiety throughout May-July. Throughout lockdown and into the summer holidays girls have reported consistently lower wellbeing scores compared to boys.
  • That said, levels of overall pupil mental wellbeing remained stable as lockdown progressed, though this varied by pupil groups.
  • Comparing pupil data from May, June and July with national data taken from before the lockdown shows little difference in mental wellbeing on average over lockdown. The average wellbeing score for pupils in the July sample was 24.1, higher than our pre-lockdown benchmark of 23.6 and unchanged from the score in June.
  • However, this masks differential effects in sub-groups. Aside from gender differences, other pupil groups whose wellbeing was affected include people eligible for Pupil Premium, those with SEND, and those with English as an additional language.
  • Young people eligible for Pupil Premium consistently reported lower levels of learning persistence throughout the summer. Overall, their scores are 5% lower. This is a consistent gap in each of the three months that this report covers.

Coronavirus: challenges facing schools and pupils in September 2020 (England)

Source: National Foundation for Educational Research

Date: 01 September 2020

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has published a report on the challenges facing schools and pupils in England in September 2020. Findings from the report, based on interviews from around 3,000 school leaders across 2,200 primary and secondary schools, include: an estimation that the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers had increased by 46%; 53% of teachers in the most deprived schools report that their pupils are four months or more behind their studies, compared to 15% in the least deprived schools; and teachers estimate that 44% of their pupils are in need of intensive catch-up support.

Lost Learning, Lost Earnings

Source: The Sutton Trust

Date: October 2020

This study combines an analysis of the Labour Force Survey, the lost learning due to school closures between March and July 2020, and the unequal experiences depending on socio-economic background to estimate the potential impact on earnings and employment later in life. The analysis finds that school closures are likely to have substantial negative labour market impacts for those from less-well off groups, their chances of social mobility, and on the economy in general.

  • It is estimated that, compared to a normal year, secondary school children from a high socio-economic groups experienced an average loss of learning of 21% of the 2019/20 school year, compared to 34% for those from low socio-economic groups.
  • The long term negative impact on earnings. In net present value terms, the impact would be £3,870 for men from low socio-economic groups, compared to £1,570 for men from high socio-economic groups. For women, the corresponding estimates are £3,800 and £710, respectively.
  • This means that total net economic loss for just this one year group in England would be at least £1.5 billion.
  • The report recommends targeting resources at disadvantaged pupils, in particular addressing the digital divide.



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