Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on young peoples' learning, motivation, wellbeing, and aspirations using a representative probability panel

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Learning and Leadership


The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented challenge for pupils, parents, schools, and policy makers, with many children returning to school in September for the first time after six months at home. Our new project will collect and analyse high quality data on young people (ages 12-19) in England using an existing representative sample to assess the impact of the cancellation of exams, home learning experiences, and returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic on pupils' learning, motivation, wellbeing, and aspirations. This will be a follow-up of an established stratified random sample, the Science Education Tracker (SET). Data collection will be delivered online by Kantar, who carried out the original fieldwork, with explicit permission from 5,991 respondents for re-contact.

These data, which we will link to the National Pupil Database, will provide a unique opportunity to answer the following pressing research questions separately by SES, gender, and ethnic group:
1) Has the cancellation of examinations had differential impacts on wellbeing and motivations? 2) Has this changed pupils' aspirations for further study and future careers? 3) Has home-schooling affected pupils' transitions into further and higher education? 4) What role do young people's experiences of home learning under lockdown and returning to education play in this?

Led by Professor Lindsey Macmillan, with Professor Patrick Sturgis, Dr Gill Wyness, and Dr Jake Anders, the team combines world-leading expertise in design and analysis of large-scale survey data with disciplinary expertise in educational inequalities. We will partner with the Department for Education and Wellcome to ensure the co-production of policy-relevant evidence. This will fill an important gap in our understanding of the experiences of young people and the impact on their motivations, wellbeing and aspirations during this unprecedented period.


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