What we know about the disruption to education caused by Covid

The closing of schools, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, on 20 March 2020, save for on-site education for vulnerable children and children of critical workers, has impacted on all areas of society, including education. The main issues facing school leaders in opening schools to whole year groups concern practical issues, staffing and teaching (Sharp et al., 2020), including feeling unprepared to resume a range of activities, and the danger of those children most in need of school as those more likely to miss out. The phased return from 1 June includes priority for year 10 and 12 pupils preparing for important examinations next year, offering reduced timetables, some face-to-face contact and support to supplement pupils’ remote education. These responses involve three sets of options (not necessarily exclusive) (Andrew et al., 2020):

  • making students’ experience of home learning more equal;
  • bringing students back into schools at different times; and
  • offering extra resources and additional support to students to help them catch up once they are back at school.

However, while the provision of extra resources, including additional support, has been identified, limited access to IT and space at home to study, are recognised as significant challenges (Lucas et al., 2020). The experiences of pupils during the lockdown will vary by the family and home circumstances and in the responses that schools have been able to make to support them.

The evidence for mentoring

  • Public Health (England) found that school engagement in particular does seem to have strong links with academic success, and a child’s level of wellbeing impacts on their behaviour and engagement in schools, and their ability to achieve academic competence.
  • One literature review by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) found “measurable factors such as self-control and school engagement are correlated with positive outcomes in the future such as academic attainment, improved finances in adulthood, and reduced crime.”
  • EEF toolkit:
  • Future First have outlined the importance of accessing relatable role models for pupils, and have found that those from ‘disadvantaged backgrounds’ are less likely to have the support of positive role models and so lack confidence about their future and are less likely to think they’re going to be successful in the future.


Andrew, A., Cattan, S., Costa-Dias, M., Farquharson, C., Kraftman, L., Krutikova, S., Phimister, A. and Sevilla, A. (2020). Learning During The Lockdown: Real-Time Data on Children’s Experiences During Home Learning. IFS Briefing Note BN288 [online]. Available: https://www.ifs.org.uk/uploads/BN288-Learning-duringthe-lockdown-1.pdf [14 June, 2020].

Education Endowment Foundation. Teaching and Learning Toolkit. [online] Available: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/evidence-summaries/teaching-learning-toolkit/

Future First. (2019). Young people, their futures and access to relatable role models. [online] Available: https://files.futurefirst.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/images/20190923124323/Young-people-their-futures-and-access-to-relatable-role-models-2019.pdf [27 June, 2020]

Lucas, M., Nelson, J. and Sims, D. (2020). Schools’ Responses to Covid-19: Pupil Engagement in Remote Learning. Slough: NFER. [online] Available: https://www.nfer.ac.uk/schools-responses-to-covid-19-pupil-engagement-in-remote-learning/ [14 June, 2020].

Morrison Gutman, L., Schoon, I. (2013). The impact of non-cognitive skills on outcomes for young people. Institute of Education. [online] Available: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/public/files/Presentations/Publications/Non-cognitive_skills_literature_review_1.pdf [27 June 2020]

Public Health England. (2014). The Link Between Pupil Health and Wellbeing and Attainment: A Briefing for Headteachers, Governors and Staff in Education Settings. NAHT. [online] Available: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/370686/HT_briefing_layoutvFINALvii.pdf [27 June, 2020]

Sharp, C., Sims, D, and Rutt, S. (2020) School’s Responses to Covid-19: Returning Pupils to School. Slough: NFER. [online] Available: https://mk0nuffieldfounpg9ee.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/schools_responses_to_covid_19_early_report_final.pdf [14 June, 2020]