Funding granted to major research project on impact of school closures on children

A £500,000 grant from the Nuffield Foundation will help NIESR research the effects of lockdown on language development, social and emotional skills, and educational outcomes

Britain’s oldest independent economic research institute has been awarded funding to help it ascertain the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns and school closures on children.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) will undertake three years of research examining Covid-19’s effects on language development, social and emotional skills, and educational outcomes, thanks to a grant of around half a million pounds from social wellbeing charity, the Nuffield Foundation.

“We know from previous studies that the early educational experiences of children have a significant effect on them in later years,” said project lead, Dr Claudine Bowyer-Crane, associate research director at NIESR.

“What we are not yet aware of are the long-term impacts that Covid-19 will have on children’s language, socioemotional and educational outcomes.

“By following children over time and comparing data for the three years preceding Covid-19, with the following three years, we will build a comprehensive picture, which takes into account the children’s language backgrounds, family circumstances and experiences of lockdown. This is a significant project, which we are confident will assist with future policy choices.”

What we are not yet aware of are the long-term impacts that Covid-19 will have on children’s language, socioemotional and educational outcomes – Dr Claudine Bowyer-Crane, NIESR

Besides applying hard data – such as the comparing of statutory assessments over a six-year period, or collecting records on children’s development from reception through to year two – researchers will try to form a more rounded view of Covid-19’s impact by talking to those closest to the children.

Parents will be asked for their perspective on the repercussions of the coronavirus crisis on their children’s development, while teachers will discuss the ramifications of unprecedented changes in the educational environment.

“The critical importance of children’s educational development has been highlighted this past year, which may act to scar many a young person’s prospects,” said NIESR director, Professor Jagjit Chadha.

“With the support of the Nuffield Foundation, Claudine and her team will be able to understand more fully the impact of lockdowns and school closures on early year’s attainment, and so provide policymakers with clear guidance as to where our immediate priorities should lie.”

The project will recruit around 75 state schools.


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