The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Joe McGinn

Research call: understanding the impact of Covid-19 disruption on young people

How is the current disruption to schooling going to affect pupils in the future? What will be the impact on wellbeing, social and emotional development? Joe McGinn of ImpactEd shares a research opportunity.

The outbreak of Covid-19 is contributing to an unprecedented level of change in our education system. In an extremely short space of time teachers and school leaders had to arrange virtual lessons, ensure those on free school meals continued to get fed, organise care arrangements for the children of key workers and try to find a way to create some form of routine for their pupils.

Schools have risen to this challenge in impressive fashion and demonstrated that their value to society extends way beyond the classroom

No doubt this is an incredibly challenging period of time for all those involved in education but, working at ImpactEd, I’ve been touched to see the amazing response from so many of our partner schools. Whether that’s been ensuring every single pupil gets a call from a member of staff once a week, helping to deliver meals to those in need in their local community, or using school resources and facilities to help make and provide PPE for frontline workers, schools have risen to this challenge in impressive fashion and demonstrated that their value to society extends way beyond the classroom.

An opportunity for change?

Periods of disruption, however, can also provide opportunities to reshape and rethink: to ask fundamental questions about what our education system is for, and how it achieves this.

But this process doesn’t happen on its own – it requires understanding of the factors that influence change and evidence about what is likely to work in order to make a difference. 

That’s why we have attempted to address this by launching a national research project, in partnership with the University of York, to better understand the true impact of this period on young people. The aims are to:

  • equip schools to understand how the current situation is influencing pupils’ wellbeing, social and emotional development and target their support where it’s needed most
  • collate these findings as part of a larger national research project to help schools understand how their results may fit into the wider national picture, and support recommendations for policymakers and practitioners.

Project details

Over the remainder of the academic year, we will be supporting schools to monitor three key ‘non-cognitive’ outcomes that will be crucial for their pupils over this challenging period: wellbeing, meta-cognition and grit. (Find out more about assessing non-academic outcomes in this article by ImpactEd co-founder Owen Carter.)

We will be using academically developed pupil questionnaires to monitor these outcomes, enabling schools to compare outcomes against a national dataset of other schools taking part. Alongside this, schools will have the opportunity to add specific custom questions they may wish to ask regarding, for example, pupil learning and engagement. Through this we hope to be able to paint a clearer picture of the effect that this rapid period of change is having on young people across the country.

Why is this important?

We want to help schools understand and adapt to the impact of the present situation and use this to support their pupils in the best way possible. And we want to create an even wider legacy for this work by using this data as part of a larger research project to make recommendations for reshaping education following the Covid-19 outbreak, to be shared with policymakers, school leaders and system influencers.

How to get involved

The project is being run across all age ranges, but predominantly from KS2-KS5, and is offered at no cost to schools. Further details are available in this project outline and if you would be interested in finding out more, please fill out the project expression of interest form as soon as you can.

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