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Digital Schools - COVID 19 schools survey

The Digital Schools research project is led by academics at the University of Essex. It studies the new challenges posed by the lockdown for schools, teachers, students and families.

If you are a member of SLT at a school and would like to take part in the ISER Digital Schools survey, please follow this link. The survey will take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

Digital Schools is asking head teachers and members of school leadership teams to complete a survey about the various teaching and learning practices they have adopted during schools’ closure due to the Covid-19 lockdown. In this unprecedented situation, it is not yet known what the best practices are to face these challenges.

The researchers hope this will provide vital information on students’ learning gaps and how they might be addressed going forward. This will be particularly important if students do not return to school full-time over an extended period.

See full details about the survey, including how participants’ data will be collected and stored, below.

About the Digital Schools survey

Invitation to our Study

Your school has been invited to participate in a new study conducted by academics at the University of Essex. Please read the following information carefully, it will tell you about the aims of the study, what your contribution will involve, and how the data collected will be processed and stored. Do not hesitate to contact us if there is anything that is not clear, or if you would like more information. Contact details are given below.

Background on the Study

The main purpose of the study “Digital Schools” is to document how schools continue to provide teaching and learning opportunities after UK-wide school closures came into place to combat the spread of Covid-19. We will document the schools’ use of online resources and use it to study the impact of school closures on students’ educational outcomes. To this aim, we plan to link data from this survey with data collected by the Department for Education on standard pupil test scores as well as characteristics of the student and staff populations and to the UK Household Longitudinal Study.

Your participation

Participation in the study is entirely voluntary. If you are unable to reply to the survey, we would be grateful if you could ask one of your colleagues to take part. We will not collect any identifying information about you.

Your right to withdraw from the Study

If after participating in the survey you change your mind about being part of the study, please write to us. You can withdraw at any time and without giving any reason. The research team will safely destroy all the data related to your school so that you response will not be included in the research.

What happens to the survey records afterwards?

The information collected from the online surveys will be analysed by our research team. Names of schools and other identifying details will be collected only for the purpose of linking the survey responses to administrative data collected by the Department for Education related to students’ test scores and the characteristics of the student and staff populations, as well as to the UK Household Longitudinal Survey. Any information that can lead to the identification of your school (such as school name and postcode) will be kept on a secure data drive and will be encrypted. The data will be used exclusively for research purposes. We will never use school names in any published paper or report or pass them on to other organisations. After the end of our project we will ask the UK Data Archive to archive the data and make it accessible safely to researchers for further non-commercial research. At this point, we will permanently delete the data from our servers.

Ethical approval

This project has been reviewed on behalf of the University of Essex Social Science Ethics Sub-Committee and has been given approval.

Concerns and complaints

If you have any concern or complaint, please contact Dr Birgitta Rabe, the principal investigator of the study. If you are still not satisfied, please contact Professor Paul Clarke, Director of Research at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex. If you need further clarifications, please contact the University of Essex Research Governance and Planning Manager. See all contact details below.

Survey contact details:

Principal Investigator Dr Birgitta Rabe, University of Essex


Director of Research Professor Paul Clarke, University of Essex


University of Essex Research Governance and Planning Manager Sarah Manning-Press,


Team members

Professor Emilia Del Bono

Professor of Economics - University of Essex

Dr Laura Fumagalli

Senior Research Officer - University of Essex

Dr Angus Holford

Research Fellow - University of Essex

Dr Birgitta Rabe

Reader - University of Essex