Government to research ‘harms’ caused by Covid-19 to pupils and staff


The Department for Education is to commission research into how Covid-19 has impacted pupils and staff.

The “rapid” data and literature review will consider “harms” to mental and physical health, domestic violence and loss of learning.

Working on behalf of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), the DfE project is worth up to £85,000 and is split across seven sectors, which include early years, primary and secondary schools, parents and carers, colleges and further education higher education and  workforce.

There are specific short and long-term harms to be investigated, which also include changes in earning capacity, the widening of gender and social group imbalance, nutrition, educational “knock-on effect”, substance misuse and wellbeing.

The review will also consider what policies are mitigating against these harms and how effective they are, what else can be done to mitigate against them, and what further research is needed.

Indirect harms to be investigated

The tender reads: “Along with the direct harms of the pandemic, the short- and long-term indirect harms of the pandemic also need to be investigated.

“It is important that we understand these indirect harms, including across different groups, and how they can be mitigated to minimise the negative impact of the pandemic”.

Government has become particularly worried about how much learning has been lost during the pandemic. Ministers have so far pledged around £1.3 billion in funding to help pupils catch up.

Former Education Endowment Foundation chief executive Kevan Collins was also recently appointed as the government’s new education recovery commissioner, with a brief to advise on interventions to catch up the education of students aged up to 19.

As the tender for new research into the harms of Covid is a rapid review, applicants have until February 26 to put in their bids, and those who are successful will have from March 29 to May 25 to prepare their final report, with a skeleton report due in April.

It comes after the DfE awarded a £143,000 contract to Renaissance Learning last year to produce a baseline assessment detailing the scale of catch-up needed for pupils after coronavirus closures.

However, the contract was awarded without the need for children to sit extra tests, which were mooted when the research was first announced.

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