New research project to understand the impact of Covid-19 on education inequalities

Dr Birgitta Rabe will lead a new research project, Mind the Gap: Educational Inequalities during Covid-19, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, to analyse the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on educational outcomes
with a view to understand whether some groups of students have been more negatively affected
than others. The research team includes Professor Emilia Del Bono, Dr Angus Holford and Dr Laura Fumagalli.

The researchers will look at how the period of school closures has impacted students’ learning
inputs, including parental help with homework and school provision of remote education, and how
the attainment of current year 10 and year 13 students has been affected by the move to teacher-assessed

It is widely expected that school closures will increase educational inequalities, including by
gender, ethnicity and socio-economic background. However, it is possible that the full extent of
the impacts will be much more nuanced, with high skilled parents having to combine remote
working and home schooling, and wide variation in the provision of remote learning across

Using monthly longitudinal data from the new Understanding Society Covid-19 survey, they will
analyse changes in parental, students’ and schools’ learning inputs during the period of the
pandemic, to assess
whether educational inequalities have widened after the period of school closures. Using administrative data on GCSE and A-level grades from the universe of English pupils, they will explore
the effect of teacher-assessed exam grades on educational inequalities, with a specific focus on
socio-economic, gender and ethnic gaps. They will use UCAS data to examine the impact of A-level grading on higher education participation by background.

This project will provide policy makers and practitioners with the knowledge to successfully
address inequalities in attainment and learning resulting from school closures.


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