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How pandemic closures prompted children to change their perspectives about school

Blog Editor, IOE Digital28 March 2022

Denise Buchanan.

How have pandemic-related school closures affected the well-being of children? Some research evidence has emerged, but few educational studies have included face-to-face interviews with children, such as ours has. Our ‘Children’s Life Histories in Primary Schools’ involved 63 interviews with 23 children considered to be ‘lower-attaining’, when they were aged 9-10, concerning their experiences of school closures.

Not surprisingly, the children’s testimonies showed that their wellbeing was diminished by the closure of schools, as it had hindered their opportunities to play, socialise and learn, leading to feelings of sadness, loneliness and boredom. But extended school closures also made them realise (more…)

How do we make sure the most disadvantaged children get a good education during public health emergencies?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital7 February 2022

Kendra Pyne, Yi Shi and Mukdarut Bangpan.

School support to build children’s resilience and boost their analytical skills could help to mitigate the inequalities that have increased during the pandemic. This is one of the broad range of interventions highlighted by our analysis of 52 research projects from around the world published in the International Journal of Educational Research.

As schools shut their doors during the Covid-19 pandemic, educational systems around the world have been struggling to provide continuity of teaching and uphold the quality and inclusiveness of education. While school disruption has affected all communities in terms of livelihoods, learning and economic opportunities, and psychological health, people living in disadvantaged situations are more likely to suffer from the most detrimental consequences.

Such disparity has led to a series of unanswered questions in the context of public health emergencies: what action has been (more…)

Top of the blogs: what topics made it into our readers’ 2021 hit parade?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 January 2022

Diane Hofkins.

2021 was not the year we were hoping for. Dominated by the pandemic, it was a year of disrupted education, work and recreation. Many people lost friends and family members, Physical and mental health suffered.

As with every aspect of life, the pandemic cast its shadow across every topic touched on by the IOE Blog last year: the challenges of school leadership, mental health, the arts, remote learning, relationships with parents, and especially inequality. In January, Melanie Ehren and colleagues wrote of the ‘Matthew Effect’: “For whoever has, to him shall be given […] but whoever has not, from him shall be taken away even that he has”. The Covid Generation, they said, will have educational winners and losers. And (more…)

Schools’ varied Covid stories make sitting the Phonics Test meaningless

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 November 2021

Alice Bradbury and Gemma Moss.

This autumn term, for the second year running, the Phonics Screening Check (PSC) will be taking place in Year 2 classrooms for all pupils, rather than the usual system of testing everyone at the end of Year 1. The Covid crisis led to the suspension of all statutory testing in the summer of 2021 and no other assessments have been moved, only the PSC. This means that Year 2 pupils who have missed out on months of classroom time last year will be taken out of their classrooms this term, to test their phonics decoding skills by asking them to read aloud 40 words and pseudo-words.

The PSC is intended to monitor the quality of phonics teaching in the school as well as to provide information on individuals for teachers. This year’s use of the test, however, will be meaningless unless local circumstances are taken into account, because the pandemic has affected schools in such a variety of ways. Our IOE research found that schools reacted in complex and thoughtful ways to the impacts of Covid on their communities, taking into account circumstances that made home learning difficult for pupils; each school has its own ‘Covid story’.

Varied local circumstances meant children had a wide range of needs, including insufficient food or heating for (more…)

Early childhood: the changing face of parent-practitioner relations during the pandemic

Blog Editor, IOE Digital28 October 2021

finelightarts / Pixabay

Rachel Benchekroun and Claire Cameron.

Lockdowns and other restrictions in England and around the world since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic have transformed the way parents and early childhood practitioners communicate. This is having significant implications for children’s development, learning and wellbeing.

Two linked studies at the UCL Social Research Institute examining environmental changes for children, parents and practitioners, in England, New Zealand, Senegal and Italy have been uncovering the multi-faceted and evolving roles of early childhood provision in supporting children and families.

Through interviews with practitioners and parents from a top-rated early childhood setting in a disadvantaged neighbourhood of London, we were able to identify shifts in the way communication took place during lockdown. Practitioners provided support to families through weekly phone calls to parents, Zoom calls to engage with the children and sharing ideas for activities at home on the ‘parent app’. One practitioner explained: (more…)

We’re in the same storm but not the same boat’: lessons for the future from our FE Rapid Evidence Review

Blog Editor, IOE Digital15 September 2021

Ken Spours and Paul Grainger.

‘There will be a K-shaped recovery with winners and losers: we are all in the same storm but not in the same boat.’ (FE college leader)

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented event in the globalised world. In terms of a health emergency, there has been nothing on this scale since the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1919 – and we now live in a much more connected world, of course, that is also experiencing an even greater threat from the climate emergency.

The pandemic bears all the symptoms of a wicked problem, due to our incomplete knowledge of its effects and interdependencies as it impacts on a vulnerable Further Education (FE) sector. The UK’s FE colleges include provision for the more deprived sections of the community, and specialise in preparing young people for working life. Both aspects have (more…)

Ready for work? UK youth ambitious but uncertain about their future careers

Blog Editor, IOE Digital22 July 2021

Ingrid Schoon, Golo Henseke.

What are the career expectations of young people aged 16-25 in the current climate of economic uncertainty – and how do schools prepare them for the transition into the labour market in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic? These questions are examined in a new report out today (July 21). The report is part of a large-scale project to track youth employment, learning, career development and wellbeing during the pandemic in the UK and abroad.

Career expectations

Based on data collected in March and again in May 2021 from a representative sample of 1,542 16 to 25-year-olds in Britain we find that young people have ambitious educational and occupational goals, although there are high levels of uncertainty about future careers.

Young people who had formal career preparation, such as (more…)

Covid-19 and young people: we need to talk about job skills

Blog Editor, IOE Digital15 July 2021

Golo Henseke, Ingrid Schoon.

Today is World Youth Skills Day and this year it’s more important than ever.

From the start of the first lockdown in March 2020, young people’s prospects worsened significantly across many areas of their lives. Alongside challenges to wellbeing, young people were confronted with lost learning at school, colleges and universities, heightened labour market uncertainty, and a potential decline in internships and work experience placements.

While lost learning at primary and secondary level received significant attention, the impact of lost job skills learning and career preparation for young people has been largely missing from the conversation.

In a new report, which will be out on July 21, we shed light on young people’s career readiness and how it might affect their behaviour as they begin navigating an uncertain labour market. The report is part of a large-scale project to track youth employment, (more…)

Who is included, who is excluded and what can we do to promote inclusion for all children?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 June 2021

Claire Cameron, Jo Van Herwegen, Mark Mon-Williams, Aase Villadsen.

“Covid 19 constitutes the greatest crisis that high-income countries have seen in many generations,” says UNICEF in its recent analysis. And children “are among those at greatest risk of seeing their living standards fall and their personal well-being decline”.

This, in turn, threatens to broaden the group of children at risk of exclusion – not just for misbehaviour, but because they have needs that are not being met. The danger is that, in the pandemic’s aftermath, we focus on ‘catch up’ learning for the relatively advantaged, and neglect the long-term health, wellbeing, and competency benefits of inclusive education for all students – especially those who are poor and ‘near poor’.

Now is the time to think how we can organise structures, services, and systems in every school so that all (more…)

Year 6’s: ‘ready, strong and brave’ for the transition to secondary in the time of Covid

Blog Editor, IOE Digital2 June 2021

Katya Saville and Sandra Leaton Gray.

Since the second lockdown lifted in March and all students were able to return to school, much attention has been placed on the need for schools to help students ‘catch up’ on lost learning. However, our research this year found that the pandemic’s impact on the learning of students in England who were moving from primary to secondary school (Year 7) varied widely.

While many teachers in our study reported that a reasonable degree of learning continued during the first lockdown, almost a third found a wide variation between students. For instance, in interview, one teacher contrasted the difficulties for students in large families with little technological access with the accelerated learning which occurred for other vulnerable students who were able to access in-school provision.

One of our key recommendations, therefore, is to invest heavily in technological infrastructure and training, particularly as our survey findings indicate that, even (more…)