The big lockdown learning survey: The results!

Do you remember all the Parent Ping questions about home learning during lockdown? Our Chief Analyst has been crunching the numbers and has now published a big report about lockdown learning for the Education Endowment Foundation. We found:

🙂 Parents think schools did a great job (but this didn’t really affect how successful parents thought home learning had been)

😐 Some families found it harder than others (but not a lot)

☹️ Families were challenged when they didn’t have enough access to laptops etc., when it was difficult to combine home learning with other commitments, and when they didn’t understand the work set by schools.

This blog looks at the details…

What did we do?

From early February until children returned to school in mid-March, we used Parent Ping to ask loads of questions about home learning. We were interested in what made parents think home learning was successful. We used the question results to create 3 ‘latent’ measures of perceived success – this means we didn’t ask about these things directly, but combined the data from lots of questions to create 3 main analysis topics:

Learning success – this was based on the amount of time parents reported their children spent on schoolwork each day, plus parent perceptions around their child’s learning
Child motivation – parent views of how motivated their child was to learn
Parent coping – what parents told us about their levels of anxiety and feelings about home learning.

A full report is available on the EEF website, but here is what we think is most important for you to know. (But remember, we were not looking at learning outcomes, these could still be significantly different, we were looking at success from the parent perspective).

What did we find out?


1. Parents think schools did a great job (but this didn’t really affect how successful parents thought home learning had been)

In most schools, some families coped well with home learning, and some found it more difficult, regardless of what the schools offered in terms of home learning provision. Therefore, there was relatively little variation in how successful parents perceived home learning to be.

Overall, parents were positive about the quality of education their child received during the 2021 lockdown. Parents whose child did not have a special educational need were generally a little more satisfied. The least satisfied group were those parents with high household incomes of over £50,000.

Home learning was seen as being slightly more positive in schools where there were fixed daily routines for work submission, specific and frequent feedback from teachers and the use of ‘live’ instruction. Live instruction was particularly popular with parents: 74% reported that they would want the school to provide it in the event of another lockdown.

2. Some families found it harder than others (but not a lot)
Overall, the background circumstances of the parent and child were not closely related to the perceived success of learning at home. However, some groups found home learning easier than others…

Parents of reception-aged children found home learning hardest out of all the diffierent groups we looked at and reported least perceived success. Whilst home learning undoubtably posed challenges for all parents, those with children in the youngest school year group consistently reported lower scores for all three learning success variables. Beyond this point, there is enormous variation within year groups.

Home learning was also hard for single parents. Having more than one adult at home to help juggle commitments during lockdown is quite an important predictor of whether the family feels they are coping. Larger families also seemed to find learning at home more difficult than those with just one child.

Parents who felt confident and positive about supporting their children in home learning learning reported the most perceived success. This may seem obvious, but it does not mean that parent’s own level of completed education was important. Parents who have a degree reported no better outcomes for home learning than those who said they had only completed education up to the level of GCSEs.

Whilst families eligible for free school meals were consistently less positive about the perceived success of learning at home, there were not significant differences elsewhere in the household income distribution. Nor was struggling with home learning associated with parental working patterns.

What were the biggest challenges?

The study found four key challenges faced by families, which were strongly associated with lower perceived success of home learning:

🔵 insufficient access to technological devices

🔵 difficulties combining home schooling with other commitments

🔵 children finding it harder to work independently

🔵parents struggling to understand work set or feeling low confidence in their ability to support their children’s learning.

Parents who reported these challenges reported less positive perceptions about their children’s home learning success.

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