Inequalities in home learning and schools’ remote teaching provision during the COVID-19 school closure in the UK

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

August 15, 2023


Millions were affected by COVID-19 school closures, with parents and schools caught unprepared. Education is expected to play a role in creating equal opportunities, so transferring schooling responsibilities to families may have increased learning inequalities generated by family backgrounds. We examined the time students spent on home learning and explored the role of the schools’ distance teaching provision in explaining differences traditionally attributed to parental education, eligibility for free school meals, ethnic background and single parenthood. Using the Understanding Society COVID-19 dataset, we found children who received free school meals, single-parent families and children with parents with lower formal education qualifications and Pakistani or Bangladeshi backgrounds spent significantly less time on schoolwork. However, schools’ provision of offline and online distance teaching and homework checking significantly increased the time spent on learning and reduced some inequalities, demonstrating the policy relevance of digital preparedness to limit learning loss in school closures.

Published in


Volume and page numbers

Volume: 57 , p.767 -788






Open Access

© The Author(s) 2022

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (

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