The impact of COVID19 on school starters

High quality Early Years provision plays a vital role in all aspects of a child’s development. Unfortunately, the COVID19 pandemic resulted in the national closure of Early Years settings to all but children of keyworkers and vulnerable children, with only 7% of children aged 2-4 accessing Early Years provision during lockdown. This means that children starting school in Sept 2020 have done so after a period of significant instability and atypical social and environment influences. This project seeks to understand the experience of school starters and the impact of the pandemic on their socio-emotional wellbeing and educational outcomes.

This is a longitudinal study combining primary data collection with analysis of data from the National Pupil database.  The team will work with schools to collect data on reception pupils’ language, numeracy and socio-emotional development in the Autumn term 2020 and again in the Summer term 2021.  They will also carry out surveys with the schools and parents at the same time points to explore the influence of the home learning environment and changes to the school environment this year.  Analysis of NPD data will allow us to compare outcomes at the end of the school year with previous cohorts, while comparing the outcomes of children eligible for free school meals will allow us to investigate the potential growth in the disadvantage gap.

Timescale and funder 

The project is funded by the Education Endowment Foundation. It began in Sept 2020 and the final report will be published in Spring 2022.  Interim thematic briefings will be produced throughout the project.

More information is available about the project on the EEF website project page and schools can sign up to take part by emailing education-schoolstarters-cv19 [at] by November 30 2020.

Research programmes