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ICKLE, a twelve-month project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, began in September 2020. The project measures reception-aged children’s progress in key curriculum areas and aims to determine the factors influencing pupils’ learning trajectories.

Research site

The research involves 10 schools in Leeds, a large, superdiverse city comparable to the national context. The schools vary in size and according to the percentages of children who have English as an Additional Language (EAL), have Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), and are eligible for Free School Meals (FSM).

Research design

Using a longitudinal, retrospective research design, we have combined pupil data from March 2020, before the first period of disrupted schooling, when the children were in reception, with data collected in Autumn 2020 (time point 2) when the children had entered Year 1. A third phase of work is underway, involving a further round of data collection just completed (time point 3) as the children approach the end of Year 1, allowing us to track the learning trajectories of this cohort through two periods of school disruption.


We have collected three types of data.

  1. Remote learning provision

One teacher from each school provided contextual data, via online survey, at time point 2 and time point 3. This includes detailed information about the resources provided by schools, the types and frequency of support provided, and home-school communication.

  1. Home learning experience

220 parents of children who were learning at home for all or part of the week during Spring 2020 provided detailed data, via online survey, on access to physical resources, learning routines, and availability of parental supervision. A second home learning survey is currently being analysed (July 2021).

  1. Pupil achievement

Schools have provided achievement data from March 2020, Autumn 2020 and June 2021 for 454 children. Teachers were asked to rate each pupil's achievement in relation to ten goals from four areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP): language & communication (3 goals), literacy (2 goals), mathematics (2 goals), and personal and social development (3 goals). The ratings are provided on a three-point scale 1 = emerging, 2 = expecting, 3 = exceeding.