EEF publishes emerging findings from ‘Big Lockdown-Learning Parent Survey’

Low-income families more likely to report having struggled with home learning during partial school closures

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has today published early emerging findings from the ‘Big Lockdown-Learning Parent Survey’, which aims to find out how families are experiencing remote education while most pupils have been unable to access school in the normal way.

The ongoing survey is being conducted using an app called Parent Ping, with parents and carers answering daily questions about their child’s experience of learning at home. Launched at the end of January, it is collecting daily responses from around 1,240 parents whose children attend 75 primary schools participating in the study.

This initial briefing provides insights into the home learning challenges that families have faced during the latest national lockdown. The briefing also compares the experiences reported by parents whose children are eligible for free school meals (FSM) with those reported by all other parents.

Key findings include:

Parents have struggled to cope with home learning. Many families of primary-aged children have found home learning challenging. Parents and carers of FSM-eligible children were more likely to express this view compared to all other parents, although the differences were fairly small. 18% of parents from FSM-eligible households responded that their child was struggling to keep up with their schoolwork, compared with 8% of parents from all other households.

Only small differences in parent reports of learning time. 44% of parents and carers in FSM-eligible households said their primary-aged child studied for 3 or more hours on the day in question (the amount recommended by the Department for Education), compared with 52% in all other households.

Some differences in confidence about supporting their child with home learning. Overall, most parents and carers say they feel quite confident. However, those from FSM-eligible households are more likely to say they feel unconfident (41% versus 28%). 15% of those from FSM-eligible households said they often or very often found it difficult to understand home-learning tasks set by teachers, compared to 7% of all other parents and carers.

Technological problems are frequent but rarely cited as significant. On any particular day, 40% of parents and carers said they’d had some sort of technological problem while supporting home learning, with FSM-eligible families somewhat more likely to report these overall. However, just 1-in-10 parents and carers mentioned technology as causing a significant challenge over the course of a week, suggesting other practical factors – around motivating their child and/or combining home-learning with other commitments – pose bigger challenges to home learning.

The findings presented in this initial briefing are based on emerging, exploratory analysis that has not been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted with care. The schools and families who self-selected to be part of this study may not be representative of all schools and families in England. The sample size is also small, and very small for the group of FSM-eligible households, meaning that estimates are less precise than we might like them to be. About 15% of the 1,240 households in the sample are eligible for FSM, close to the national average of 17%.

It’s also important to remember that parents and carers’ experiences of home learning are complex and changing. There are likely to be many reasons why FSM-eligible households report an experience differently to other households, as well as much variation between FSM-eligible households. These nuanced differences and complexities will be explored in a full research report due to be published later this year.