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Blog 6: Interpreting the ICKLE Project Interim Findings - Can you help?

In the autumn of 2020 we asked schools in Leeds to tell us about their remote learning provision for reception age children during the first lockdown, we also asked the children’s parents and carers to tell us about their experiences of learning from home. Here are some findings that we thought would be of interest to teachers and some questions for you to think about and feedback to us on: 

Despite being prime areas of the EYFS curriculum, schools provided fewer resources for language & communication and PSED than they did for other curriculum areas.  

  • We think that this might partly be because resources were less readily available for language & communication and PSED, than for the other curriculum areas. Do you agree?  
  • Are there other potential reasons to consider here?  

The majority of schools taking part in the project moved to using online reading books, but this wasn’t always popular with families, and our results showed that the provision of hard copy reading books was associated with children making more progress in their reading. 

  • Is this association surprising to you, or would you have expected this to be the case? 
  • Do you think providing hard copy books is feasible when schools are closed to the majority of children?
  • Is there a way to improve parents and children’s experience of online reading books? 

We found that the move to home learning created new inequalities, particularly linked to the availability of parents to supervise learning in young children. We also found that children who were able to engage more in home learning made more progress. 

  • What strategies do you think could help to reduce these inequalities?  

We found that children in reception during the first lockdown made less progress than expected in all the areas, but particularly in Literacy and Mathematics, where a third of children made no progress. Compared to the 2019 averages, significantly fewer children achieved the expected levels, with the largest gap for Literacy. One of the predictors of progress was the number of different resources provided by school; children in schools that provided more resources made more progress. 

  • We think this might be because providing a wider range of resources allows families to choose the ones that suit them and their children. Do you agree?  
  • Are there other explanations for this association? 

Another predictor of children’s progress was the frequency with which families were provided with new activities, we found that children in schools that provided new activities more often actually made less progress.  

  • We wondered if this was because families felt time pressured, but we would welcome your interpretation. 

Even when taking into account whether children had formally identified SEND, we found that those children who were receiving additional classroom support pre-lockdown made less progress than their peers. 

  • How can schools ensure young children continue to receive the additional support they need in the event of future disruptions to normal schooling? 

Please share your views with us, we would really appreciate your insights and perspectives on these findings: 

Our detailed interim reports can be found here: