The context for individual young people is going to have an even greater bearing on their learning, engagement and motivation than usual.

It is unrealistic for schools to ignore the disruption caused by March to August and a business as usual attitude will undermine schools’ efforts to re-engage, motivate and support pupils returning to the classroom.

In addition to consolidating pupils’ learning, planning needs to focus on recovery of confidence in learning, and re-engagement into the life of their school. This can best be done by making sure that learning is relevant and builds on students’ experience.

Evidence from education in emergency zones, shows starting from students’ individual needs and experiences is what works. We are asking the Department for Education (DfE) to create a transitional phase, which could remain in place for longer than anticipated.

Addressing learning environments

Covid-19 has emphasised the inequality in home learning enviornments and the barriers to learning created by poverty and poor housing.

Home learning environments are not equal and not all parents and carers have been able to support their children’s learning at home during the lockdown.

Some pupils will be very worried about re-starting schooling. Students can't be expected simply to ‘catch-up’ on more than a term’s curriculum within a few weeks of returning to school after months of uncertainty and, for some, heightened anxiety. We think the Government needs to do much more to help schools support students with SEND, with lower prior attainment and who are eligible for free school meals (FSM) may, in particular, need targeted support in order to regain confidence and consolidate their learning.

We want Government to give schools space and support to focus on:

  • Assessing gaps in pupils’ learning; 
  • Supporting students to consolidate what they have learned; 
  • Setting expectations for pupil progress that are realistic and fair for young people, given the learning that has been missed by so many, and which do not undermine welfare and wellbeing.

Black Lives Matters context

Some Black children and young people will have questions and emotions about the Black Lives Matter demonstrations and the discussions about everyday racism and the police.

Black students may also have experienced increased discussions and consciousness of levels of racism during the pandemic. Therefore they may be feeling especially disconnected, angry and upset. It will be important for teachers to recognise any unusual behaviour and perhaps build in lessons for the whole class on what racism is, why it is wrong and how to deal with it as well as explaining the Black Lives Matter movement and UK events for example in Bristol and other cities.

How to address working-class educational disadvantage

Read this research summary, from the NEU series called Research to Reflect on. This summary explores the educational inequalities faced by working-class pupils and confronts the reality that many working-class students experience a sense that they are not respected or valued.  

Research to reflect on: Addressing working class educational disadvantage

Helpful practice for valuing and including working class pupils in schooling.

How to develop a culturally responsive pedagogy 

Read this research summary, from the NEU series called Research to Reflect On. This summary gives an overview of the importance of valuing the cultural world of our pupils because it is so central to learning. If we value and incorporate the cultural identities and histories of our students within teaching practices, this empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally and politically. It also enhances students' cognitive development and self -esteem, which is always important, but is particularly so given the context of Covid. 

Research to reflect on: developing a culturally responsive pedagogy

Helpful practices for supporting and valuing the cultural identities of disadvantaged and Black pupils.


How to respond to students living in poverty 

Read this research summary, from the NEU series called Research to Reflect On. This summary gives an easy to read overview of helpful practice for supporting children and families experiencing poverty. 

Research to reflect on: supporting children in lower income homes

Helpful practice for supporting children and families experiencing poverty.