What is the research project?
This research project is the continuation of an NFER project, ‘Research on the impact of Covid-19 school closures and support strategies on pupils’ learning and social wellbeing in Key Stage 1’, which ran in the 2020/2021 academic year. By extending this project and following the same pupils as they move through the school system, this two year, longitudinal study will continue to explore the impact of the Covid-19 related school closures on the attainment gap of those pupils who were in Key Stage 1 (KS1) during the 2020/2021 academic year and the impact of school closures on their ongoing socio-emotional development. This study will also explore how quickly children reach where they might be expected to be had the pandemic not happened.
Who is conducting the study?
The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has been commissioned to carry out this research by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).
Which schools can take part?
All schools who took part in the project during the 2020/2021 academic year will be asked if they would like to continue their participation for another two academic years. There were four Infant schools in the sample for year one; each of these four schools feed directly into one Junior school. These four Junior schools will be asked to participate in the next two years of the study inviting the whole of their Year 3 pupils (and Year 3 and 4 pupils in 2022/2023) to take part.
What will the evaluation involve for teachers and schools?
We will ask schools who sign up to this project to test pupils annually, using NFER assessments in mathematics and reading and then mark and upload their pupils’ assessment results onto NFER’s Hub/Test Analysis Tool. We will provide schools with NFER assessments for their Year 2 and Year 3 pupils in 2021/2022 and for the same pupils again in Year 3 and Year 4 in 2022/2023. Schools will need to mark their pupils’ assessments and then upload their assessment marks onto the NFER’s Hub/Test Analysis Tool. NFER’s project team will then access the assessment data directly from the NFER Hub. For those pupils who have moved on from their Infant school, we will also be contacting the main linked Junior school, to ask them to join this project, so we can continue to include the same pupils in the study.
In addition, in the spring term of each year the headteacher or KS1 lead will be required to complete a school-level survey on how they approach on-going support and their planned recovery activities such as small-group work, tutoring and parental engagement. Teachers will also need to complete one survey in the spring term, on the socio-emotional development for a subsample of their pupils.
When will the assessments take place?
Schools who take part in this project will be asked to test their pupils within the following testing windows during the spring term:
- Y2 and Y3 spring assessments: March/early April 2022
- Y3 and Y4 spring assessments: March/early April 2023
Schools will then be asked to upload their pupils’ assessment results before the Easter break.
NFER will share the data collected during the 2020/21 project with schools via the secure school portal. Schools will be asked to check and confirm this data, along with confirming if any of the original pupils have left the school and also adding data for any pupils new to the school. This would include names of pupils and UPN.
When working with the Junior schools new to the study, the NFER will provide a template on the secure school portal for teachers to provide the data required for the research project. This will include contact information as well as some information on the pupils, for example names and UPN.
When will my school need to get involved and what is required?
Schools confirm that they are happy to continue to be part of the project by signing an online Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
NFER sends Year 2 and Year 3 assessments to schools.
School questionnaire and social skills survey links shared with schools
March/early April 2022
Schools sit Year 2 and Year 3 spring assessments
Assessments are marked in-school and teachers upload data to the NFER analysis tool
Schools continue to complete questionnaire and social skills survey
Feedback to schools from the spring term assessments. This would include a comparison of the performance of pupils in 2022 in standardised reading and mathematics assessments with a standardisation sample from 2017. These results can be used to inform your understanding of where pupils may need support and their strengths and weaknesses across different areas of the curriculum.
Dates for the 2022/2023 academic year would be the same and a copy of the final evaluation report will be sent to schools on publication.
How will my school benefit from taking part?
All schools will receive complimentary assessments for the year groups required for the project. In addition, schools will also receive a 20 per cent discount off the purchase of NFER assessments on any two year groups worth of assessments. These can be purchased between April and September in each year of the study, once schools have uploaded their pupil assessment results onto the NFER hub.
Schools will also receive a short piece of feedback in June around the assessments completed each year.
How will the findings be used?
The findings from the original study are being used to provide a report to the EEF on the impact of the school closures on the attainment gap on the youngest school age children affected by the pandemic and the socio-emotional development of these pupils. This report will also include how Covid-19 related school closures and recovery has affected and supported disadvantaged children. The findings from this study will be used to report, each year, on how quickly these children recover their learning and are able to reach where they might be expected to be had the pandemic not happened. This series of reports will be available to primary schools to assist and develop their support of their pupils, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
What happens if a school, teacher or pupils want to withdraw from the research project?
A school, teacher or pupil can withdraw from the research project and/or from their data being used in the research project at any time. Schools must notify NFER of any pupils or teachers who wish to withdraw from the project.
Parents can choose to withdraw their child from the data collection of the research project at any time. They can do this by returning the form on the bottom of the parent letter to their school. Schools must not provide data about children whose parents withdraw them from the data collection. If the withdrawal takes place after the study commences, schools must notify NFER of such pupils, and these pupils will be removed from the project’s datasets and subsequent analysis immediately.
How will NFER use and protect the data collected?
All data gathered during the research project will be held in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR and will be treated in the strictest confidence by NFER. No pupil-level data will be shared with the EEF.
All teacher and pupil-level data shared by schools with NFER will be done so via a secure school portal. For the purposes of the research project, all pupils will have an ID number. No school, teacher or pupil will be named in any report arising from this work.
A School Privacy Notice for the research project is available here.
Who can I contact for more information?
For further information, please contact Alison Hale via email at KS1AttainmentResearch@nfer.ac.uk.