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The impact of school closures: Selected reading

Written By: Cat Scutt
10 min read
A collection of articles and blogs about the current school closures and their potential impact

This selected reading list is one of three put together relating to the current COVID-19 outbreak. They were all originally part of one list, but as the number of links increased it has now been split into three for easier navigation.

Online, distance and home learning: Selected reading

The first selected reading list relates specifically to online and home learning, including research and blogs about online learning (including using multimedia, online assessment, e-safety and more), about supporting parents and parental engagement, about supporting pupil wellbeing, and about online teacher CPD.

The impact of school closures: Selected reading (this list)

The second reading list, on this page, looks at the impact of school closures due to COVID-19 more generally, including guidance from DfE and key education stakeholders including unions, alongside research and blogs about the potential impact on pupil learning and the attainment gap, ‘summer learning loss’, the use of teacher assessment and more.

Free home learning resources: Selected links

A final list is focused specifically on free resources and tools for online and home learning, and includes links to lists others have collated, as well as resources from a range of schools and subject associations. This is provided as a starting point, but the resources have not been quality assured and it is far from comprehensive.


Introduction: The impact of school closures

Many organisations and individuals have produced advice and collated lists of useful resources, free tools etc for use to support home learning and distance learning during the COVID-19 outbreak. As such, this page includes many links to other lists, but also includes links to a range of articles, blogs, and research from different sources. Whilst some of the articles and resources linked have been written or produced specifically in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, some are more general.

The views within linked articles and resources do not necessarily represent those of the Chartered College, and we are not responsible for the content of any external links. Whilst some government links are included, the government has published (and continues to publish) much more guidance, and this should be monitored directly on the Department for Education website for the latest updates.

The list will be regularly updated with new links, and suggestions of other resources to add are very welcome.



COVID-19 guidance and information

The official DfE guidance for education settings during the COVID-19 outbreak

Information, FAQs and views from nasen around the implications of the COVID-19 outbreak for children and young people with SEND

Unesco are reporting on where schools are closed around the world on their website; this World Bank blog also summarises some of the approaches being taken internationally

Stefan Flasche and colleagues at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s brief letter of guidance on infection control for schools who are looking after children of key workers and vulnerable children


The potential impact of school closures – views and related research

A Tes column by Geoff Barton looking at what is likely to happen (and what should happen) when schools do start back (link added 4th April)

A report from Monash University predicting the longer-term impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on education (link added 4th April)

A report from the CFEY and Ambition Institute, based on a virtual round-table event, looking at how to support vulnerable children and young people during COVID-19 (link added 4th April)

A blog from the Early Intervention Foundation reflecting on what the COVID-19 outbreak may mean for families, children and the services that support them

A blog from the Sutton Trust looking at the possible impact of school closures on disadvantaged pupils

A Tes article by the EEF’s Becky Francis, discussing the challenges school closures and remote learning will present, and the possible impact on disadvantaged pupils in particular

A blog by Loic Menzies and Tom Rees for the CFEY about how schools are supporting children and young people through the COVID-19 outbreak

A (very brief) UNESCO summary of the potential negative consequences of school closures (whilst recognising the necessity of school closures, this highlights the challenges schools are also trying to solve during them)

The authors of this National Bureau for Economic Research working paper aimed to understand the impact of educational attainment of school closures during the 1916 polio pandemic

A blog by Danielle Mason at the RSA looking at how we can make sure school closures don’t leave some pupils behind

This Lancet article about what effect school closures might have on reducing the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak led to a number of newspaper articles, not all reflecting what it said very accurately – Sam Sims’ thread on Twitter discusses this usefully (link added 7th April)

Beth Tarasawa of the NWEA has written (from a US perspective) about the potential impact of school closures on pupil learning (link added 11th April)

A blog by Timo Hannay for SchoolDash explores the impact of school closures on recruitment of teaching staff (link added 11th April)

TeacherTapp data has provided some interesting insight into differences between schools during school closures, including around pupils’ device access (link added 11th April)

A poll carried out by Public First for the Sutton Trust looked at whether parents feel confident about teaching their children at home; one finding was that working class parents felt (on average) less confident than middle class parents (link added 11th April)

The Bell Foundation’s webinar (available to watch back) and follow-up blog look at the possible impact of school closures on disadvantaged EAL pupils.

Teacher assessment and grading pupils in 2020

Information from Ofqual on how GCSEs, AS Levels and A Level grades will be awarded for summer 2020, as well as a blog and videos with further guidance (latter link added 11th April). The DfE have also published guidance / FAQs relating to exams and grading in 2020 (link added 4th April)

Prior to publication of the above documents in April 2020, the DfE made an announcement in March about exams and grades, which gave a general overview of a planned approach.

These were all published before the DfE’s announcements about how grades would be awarded, but may still be of interest in any case – three views on how grades could or should be awarded, from Jonathan Simons for SchoolsWeek, from the FFT Education Datalab, and from ASCL’s Duncan Baldwin (final link added 4th April)

With teacher assessment being a key part of pupil grades will be awarded in the absence of summer exam, the proceedings from an older (2009) NFER event on ensuring reliability in teacher assessment may provide some food for thought

Ben White’s article for SchoolsWeek looks at some of the limitations of teacher assessment as he considers its use in allocating grades – this was published prior to Ofqual’s announcement of the approach, but is still relevant – and it includes a ‘competition’ to see how accurately you can predict grades based on information you are given (link added 4th April)

The Sutton Trust have expressed some concern that teacher assessment can unintentionally disadvantage pupils from poorer backgrounds – this brief EEF post explains a little more about bias and teacher assessment

This blog by Daisy Christodoulou explores teacher assessment and bias in more depth

An article on The Conversation arguing that teacher assessment is as reliable and stable as exam scores; they have also written a Tes article arguing that teacher assessment should permanently replace GCSEs (link added 4th April)

An older (2004) systematic review by Wynne Harlen for the EPPI-centre looking at the evidence of reliability and validity of assessment by teachers used for summative purposes (link added 4th April)

A report from the CFEY (then LKMCo) on improving support for Black Caribbean and FSM-eligible white boys in London includes some reflection on teacher bias in assessment (link added 4th April)

A blog by Dawn Cox where she explores what she things the possible consequences of the exam grading system for 2020 will be for teachers (link added 5th April)

Tom Sherrington’s blog explores some of the challenges of generating centre-assessed grades (link added 11th April)

A blog by Kristian Shanks gives his views on some of the challenges (and opportunities) for schools and teachers of the exam grading approach for 2020 (link added 11th April)

Chris Baker’s blog gives his advice for teachers on an approach to allocating grades  (link added 11th April)

A blog by Ben Newmark raises concerns about the implications of the approach for exam grading in 2020 for schools who have been improving rapidly (link added 11th April)

Erica Holt-White at the Sutton Trust has written an article reflecting on the possible impacts of the exam cancellations in 2020 (link added 11th April)


‘Summer learning loss’

‘Summer learning loss’ is widely being used (including by Becky Francis in her article linked above) as a point of comparison for the impact that school closures may have on pupil learning in general, and specifically on the achievement gap. Some papers on this theme include:

An article by two University of Southern California professors looking at what summer learning loss is and what could be done about it

A What Works Scotland literature review looks at the impact of summer holidays in terms of both financial costs for parents, and learning loss, while this open access journal article by Hilary Stewart and colleagues also looks at the possible impact of summer holidays on disadvantaged pupils’ wellbeing and health

An article by Paul T. von Hippel, an associate professor at the University of Texas, which challenges some of the previous research and assumptions around the extent of summer learning loss – a shorter article by him also summarises his arguments

Assistant headteacher Garry Russon wrote for Tes last year about how his school was offering online maths tutorials over the summer to try to tackle summer learning loss


Teaching and leading schools during COVID-19

The Chartered College has produced two video discussions on leading schools in the current difficult times, one thinking about secondary schools and one thinking about primary schools (link added 4th April)

Steve Munby’s Tes article offers 3 tips for leading schools through the COVID-19 outbreak (link added 4th April)

Aimée Tinkler has written a compact guide for the Chartered College on teaching mixed-age classes, for teachers who are in school looking after mixed groups of pupils (link added 4th April)

A Guardian Education article from a headteacher, outlining their concerns for their pupils during the COVID-19 outbreak (link added 4th April)

Headteacher Simon Smith’s blog on ‘the new normal’ argues that supporting families is the priority, rather than education as we know it (link added 4th April)

Michael Merrick’s blog discusses how the current situation might (and should) lead to a rethink of what we value as ‘success’ (link added 4th April)

Rachel Lofthouse has written a blog about learning in lockdown and how we are seeing new practices, roles and relationships emerging in this new way of working (link added 4th April)

Sallie Stanton’s blog explores some of the uncertainties and some of the things that school leaders need to prioritise in the current situation. @BaldHeadteacher’s blog, similarly, highlights compassion and continuity as key in school leadership at this time.

A LinkedIn article from Fergal Roche on the stress headteachers are under during the COVID-19 outbreak

A blog by Ros McMullen looks at why it’s important to take time to be clear what problem(s) we are trying to solve during the COVID-19 outbreak (link added 11th April)

John Tomsett’s blog is a very personal reflection on school closures and the challenge of keeping pupils socially distant in schools (link added 11th April)

David Carter has written for the CST’s Trust journal about the amazing job that school leaders are doing during the COVID-19 outbreak (link added 11th April)

Tom Rees’ article for the CST’s Trust journal reflects on what school and trust leaders and trustees might be thinking about as they prepare for the next phase of learning during school closures (link added 11th April)

This Chartered College video discussion features Farah Ahmed and Sufian Sadiq talking about how schools can support their local communities during the COVID-19 outbreak (link added 11th April)


Initial teacher training and early career teachers

The Department for Education have published guidance around initial teacher training during the COVID-19 outbreak, including for potential teacher training applicants, for NQTs, and around temporary ITT criteria for providers (link added 7th April)

Rachel Lofthouse has written about why mentoring matters for ITTE students now more than ever (link added 7th April)

Paul Hopkins’ blog reflects on some of the challenges in teacher training and for trainees during school closures (link added 4th April)

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