IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Learning through disruption: rebuilding primary education using local knowledge - Information sheet

A team of researchers from the UCL Institute of Education are investigating how parents, pupils and staff in primary schools in different parts of England have coped with and adapted to education during COVID, and their hopes for the future. We are particularly interested in understanding:

  • the dilemmas that the crisis created for schools and families in different places
  • how staff, students and families have adapted to teaching and learning in new ways during the pandemic, and any challenges or opportunities that has led to
  • any key messages from this experience that are worth remembering for the future as school life begins to return to normal.  
  • any additional support that participants think might be most useful as education goes forward now.

We will be conducting case studies in English primary schools in five different regions. Each case study will include interviews with headteachers, teachers and support staff, parents and pupils. By collecting a range of information and talking to different people, we will build up a picture of how priorities may have changed over the pandemic and what matters most in each setting now.

Who is carrying out the research?

The Principal Investigator for this project is Professor Gemma Moss. Other members of the research team are Dr Alice Bradbury, Dr Sam Duncan, Dr Annette Braun and Dr Rachael Levy. The research study has been approved by the UCL Research Ethics Committee. The IOE is a world-leading specialist institute focused on education and social science research and is at the forefront of current research to understand how the COVID-19 crisis is having an impact on teachers, parents and children. This is a time-critical project funded by UK Research and Innovation.

Why are we doing this research?

We hope that by listening to local experiences and reflections we can build up a clearer picture of common dilemmas, and the different ways in which school staff, parents and pupils have tried to solve them. We will use our findings to contribute to public debate on how the monies committed to the Education Recovery fund (so far £1.3 billion) can best be spent on supporting schools and families going forward.

We recognise that schools across England will have experienced the impact of Covid in different ways. By interviewing staff, parents and pupils in different schools we hope to understand how the pandemic has affected specific school communities, and therefore build a picture across the case study schools that reflects and acknowledges the individual stories within each school.

Interviewing participants

Interviews will be conducted by telephone or online interview at a time of participants’ choosing, using a secure platform. This will take between 30 and 45 minutes. We will ask a number of questions based on the topics we have outlined above. With their permission, the interview will be audio-recorded and then transcribed into a written record by a professional transcription company; this will then be stored anonymously.

Will anyone know who has been involved?

Any details that might reveal the identity of participants or their schools will be omitted from the interview transcript and from quotation in any outputs from the project. The school will not know who has agreed to be interviewed. Anyone willing to be interviewed will click on a link to a contact survey at UCL and their details will be kept securely.

Could there be problems for participants taking part?

We recognise that the situations in which schools have operated during Covid-19 may have included some distressing moments. The main focus of this interview will be on how education changed in the different circumstances that COVID has produced. We will want to ask what participants made of those changes, how they adapted to them and the things they miss or are most looking forward to as schools get back to more normal conditions.  If participants were to experience any distress, we will stop or pause the interview at any time and we can also provide appropriate links to support.

What will happen to the results of the research?

The findings will be collated into a report to be published in July/August 2021, and may be used in other project publications and publicity. Following this, the findings may be written up in academic publications. All reporting will be fully anonymised and copies of the report will be available on request. The data collected will be stored on a secure password-protected network, for up to ten years, in line with UCL’s data retention policy. Only the research team will have access to the data.

Data Protection Privacy Notice

The data controller for this project will be University College London (UCL). The UCL Data Protection Office provides oversight of UCL activities involving the processing of personal data, and can be contacted at data-protection@ucl.ac.uk. UCL’s Data Protection Officer can also be contacted at data-protection@ucl.ac.uk. Further information on how UCL uses participant information can be found here.

The lawful basis that will be used to process your personal data are: ‘Public task’ for personal data and’ Research purposes’ for special category data. Your personal data will be processed so long as it is required for the research project. We will anonymise or pseudonymise the personal data you provide, and will endeavour to minimise the processing of personal data wherever possible.

If you are concerned about how your personal data is being processed, or if you would like to contact us about your rights, please contact UCL in the first instance at data-protection@ucl.ac.uk.

Thank you for your interest in this research. If you have any questions please contact Professor Gemma Moss on gemma.moss@ucl.ac.uk