Impact of Covid-19 on Education in the UK

The Covid 19 has been an event of immense and currently incomprehensible historical importance. It has impacted every single aspect of our lives in all fields, whether that be economically, socially, or personally.

And we still see no end to the social effects of this pandemic in the future, especially with continuous redraftings and writings of new guidelines and rules regarding what can be done. In short, we know through the news and how we have had to adjust our own lives that the Covid 19 pandemic has changed the world in an immeasurable number of ways, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

One of the main fields that have been effected by the covid pandemic is the education sector. Everything has been changed due to the pandemic, from the ways students organise, socialise and interact with their peers and teachers, to the ways schools have needed to operate through the way they conduct classes (and if those happen in digital or real space) to the ways in students are awarded grades for the most important exams in their lives.

Truly then, the Covid 19 pandemic has facilitated and accelerated change in education in ways we could not have predicted. We at InTuition have put together this short guide briefly outlining the changes and impact on education caused by the pandemic so that you have a clue and catch up with the various changes the last two years have had on the learning of your children.


Negative impact of covid on education in the UK

how covid has effected mental health of young peopleMany NGOs, schools, and policy makers have noted the negative impact that the covid 19 pandemic has had in various forms on education. First we must try and determine what actually is a negative impact.

A negative impact is a consequence of covid on education which has, in some way, had a detrimental impact on the health (physical or mental or both) of students, or has decreased educational attainment.

Here, we identify three such negative consequences of the pandemic on British education. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but so far we have identified a few major negative impacts.


Mental health and socialisation during isolation

A lot of us have spent a lot of time isolated from others through this pandemic. However, this issue is amplified immensely when speaking for children. The school years of a child are crucial in their mental development as they learn to interact with many people across various different and new contacts.

As such, to physically be in school is incredibly important for emotional intelligence and development, and therefore the mental health of students. Interaction in physical space is therefore crucial to students.

This was taken away from the vast majority of students through the various lockdowns the UK underwent. Whilst some children of key workers were permitted to go to a school, the vast majority of children were instructed to learn from home. This kept them away from their peers and teachers, and has had an observable effect on student happiness.

A UNICEF report regarding the impact of lockdowns on mental health concluded that lockdown resulted in the “removal of coping mechanisms and reduction in support services is a worrying amalgam for children living with mental health difficulties.”


Widening gaps of achievement between state and private schools

There has always been a worry regarding the differences between achievement of state and private schools. Debates loom large, with those critical of private schools pointing out the immense gap in academic achievement and the differences in general quality of life between those who attended state school and those who attended private ones, whilst those in defence will tend to blame these differences on agency and argue that children from state schools have the capacity to get into private schools through scholarships.

This debate however took on a new life this year. The evidence was clear for everyone. Through the most recent set of GCSE results, which were given through no exams but rather work through out the year, the differences in results were incredibly stark. According to the BBC, 61% of students in private schools achieved grade 7s and above, compared with only 26% in state comprehensive.

This has thus bought a lot of attention to the reasons behind this, with many speculating that the resources available to wealthier students who attend private schools gave the edge in working consistently well through out the year to achieve such predicted grades, as opposed to state comprehensive students who relied on the exams (which were never had) to achieve such grades. A such, one negative impacts of covid was the widening of this attainment gap.


Underprivileged students at risk

As well as resources and education, school and school programmes and initiatives fulfil a large variety of other purposes for students and their families. These include things like breakfast clubs and free lunches at some schools, which are often vital for many students whose families fall under the poverty line.

These issues of food security and access have only increased during the pandemic. The economic crises of the issue has had many horrific repercussions for average people, such as the losing of jobs, the decreasing of wages, and other things. As such more students than ever have has to rely on these school programmes, not just to study, but lead normal lives.

The pandemic hit this especially hard, with lockdown meaning many of these students who depended on these programmes were unable to access them.

As such, the UNICEF report on consequences and impact of the lockdown stated that “more children in the UK will face food insecurity as job losses and debt take their toll on family finances and access to sources of emergency food is under pressure from loss of donations and volunteers.” In addition, proximity to potential abusers and a lack of place to move from them made vulnerable children especially at risk, according to the same report.


Positive impact of Covid-19 on education

Despite all of this, there were some advantages for some through Covid. These primarily related to the very quick adaptability that many were able to demonstrate through the pandemic and its issues. A positive impact is one that we will define as one that had a tangible effect on student experience and results. Here we will discuss two.


Adapting new technologiesies and dynamic teaching

The lockdown forced imagination and innovation on a scale never before seen in education. Schools, teachers and teaching assistants had to innovate vert quickly in very short amounts of time. As such, technological learning and teaching was pushed to its limits. Utilising technologies such as zoom, Microsoft office and others.

This has helped many students, even outside of the lockdown, such as those who had to self-isolate due to factors such as catching covid or being in the social circle of someone who did have covid.

Education has then moved at an extremely fast pace, and the constant innovation will be a very good thing for students as they will now have access to a plethora of teaching techniques that they were not able to access otherwise, potentially helping them attain better as they learn in new ways. As a result, the innovations in education have been one of the positives of this experience.


Better grades overall

The fact of the matter is that the 2021 GCSE cohort have had the best results ever. Almost half of all students achieved at least one grade equivalent to A or A star. This was a phenomenal achievement which was resolutely praised, and really spoke to the effectiveness of many home learning skills and how effective a lot of the new innovative technology learnings could end up being

However, this comes with a dark side, as these results were seriously skewed in favour of private school students as state above, with 61% of students in private schools achieved grade 7s and above, compared with only 26% in state comprehensive per the BBC.


The effect on primary school education

For primary schools, the impacts of covid were mainly negative. According to the Education Endowment Fund, attainment between private and state primary schools increased massively between the Autumn of 2019 and the Autumn of 2020. At this point, attainment gaps could have widened from between 10 to 24%, with no evidence of these gaps closing with the onset of 2021. As such, it has been concretely proven that the effect of covid on primary education has been a negative in so far as it relates to equitable teaching.

In addition to this, it has had immense negative impacts on the mental health of primary school children. The NHS’s “Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2020” report published in 2020 found a dramatic increase in mental health issues. They stated that almost 15% of 5-10 year olds had a mental issue, a 9.4% increase from 2017. We can then see that the impact on primary education has been quite negative.


The effect on secondary education

The impact on secondary schools has been equally disruptive. As pointed out, the results of studies relating to educational gaps have not been good, with 61% of students in private schools achieved grade 7s and above, compared with only 26% in state comprehensive per the BBC report in 2021 investigating GCSE grades.

In addition, the mental health impacts were also profound, with there being a significant increase of mental health issues and diagnoses through the covid period. From 12.6% of 11-16 year olds having mental health problems in 2917, this jumped up to 17.6% through the covid period. We can then see a considerable jump here on the impacts of mental health.


Financial impact of covid-19 on schools

how covid 19 has affected schools economics and financiallyThe finances of schools during this period has remained relatively strong, with the day to day running of a school being reduced. Much of this money was reinvested in new teaching technologies.


Resource list – list of research papers

These papers informed this guide. Few are entirely negative or positive because as in real life, most things are shades of grey:


Conclusion of impact of covid-19 on education

Covid 19 has had a wide and long-lasting impact on the education sector, and students and professionals who work within it. It is important to grasp that these effects are extremely varied, ranging from poor mental health and increased vulnerability for children, widening attainment gaps, but also allowing for more development and dynamism in teaching with innovation in schooling processes.

× How can I help you?