By | April 3, 2020

Covid-19: Measuring the impact of school responses

I listened with interest to the Business as (un)usual: Supporting vulnerable learners through Covid roundtable (#CovidRoundTable). We heard of families pushed to the limits through social distancing, of vulnerable children without the safety net that schools provide and of the teachers working in very difficult circumstances.

It was amazing to hear how schools have taken the challenge to provide services that meet the needs of their children with their diminished resources. It seemed that no two responses were the same but all were aiming for similar outcomes. See the roundtable report here.

It was clear both from the round table and from a wider review of what teachers are reporting that they are rightly proud of what they’ve done and are also looking for some way to capture its impact. Some of this is linked to inevitable concerns such as how ‘the powers that be’ might assess decisions on spend post crisis. But teachers and school leaders have expressed interest in how - once the immediate crisis has passed - they can start to capture what they did and the impact it had. This is to celebrate success but - perhaps most importantly - to capture those things that can permanently and positively inform their school practice and the wider system.

So here is my contribution to the debate - later than planned as I had symptoms shortly after the roundtable! Here are the beginnings of an outcomes framework that seeks to capture the extent of the current schools context. During the roundtable I jotted down all the inputs, outputs and outcomes I picked up from the roundtable and have attempted to arrange them into some sort of structure. The aim of this outcomes framework offering is to provide a:

  • Logical basis to review the impact of school responses to Coronavirus,
  • Frame for sharing valuable inputs and good practice outputs with others.

The outcomes framework is clearly a work in progress, so please share and comment and send links to inputs and outputs. I will add them to the framework so that it can be immediately useful for sharing good practice. Let me know how it could be more useful and I'd be really interested to hear if you have already gone down this route.

At this point I have not identified which outputs lead to which outcomes – as that would be repetitive and too restrictive for now. I have also not broken outcomes into short, medium or long. However, you should be able to plot your activities through the framework. Grab a pen and start linking the elements that best represent what you have done – or want to do – and what you have achieved.

I have grouped the outcomes raised at the roundtable in five main themes which reflect response, recovery and re-purpose phases, i.e. meeting immediate needs, getting back to normal (or new normal) and reframing the long term purpose of education, they are:

  1. Physical health and emotional well-being of children
  2. Learning and academic achievement
  3. Getting back to school
  4. Informing the future of education
  5. Physical health and emotional well-being of workforce

The point was well made during the roundtable that what schools are doing now may be different to what is being done during the summer term and different again from September and so the emphasis on these outcome groups may change over the coming months.

Particular attention is also given in the outcomes framework to how the Coronavirus disproportionately affects outcomes one to four for disadvantaged and vulnerable children. The effects of social distancing are more severe and the gaps in attainment and well-being are expected to widen. The support structures for many caring for children with disabilities are no longer there. Mitigating this has motivated the response of many schools. We should also look to meeting the needs of these children better in long term - it is essential that equity and social justice are built in from the beginning of the ‘re-boot’.

Many of the outputs in the framework are not new for schools who have long been working within a system focused on academic success, to meet the needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable children. Impact in these areas is not be rewarded by the system. Perhaps by showing the impact of this work, during this challenging time, it’s status will rise in the education system reboot.

Covid-19 School Response Outcomes Framework

Inputs

  • Online support resources
  • Online teaching resources
  • Teaching staff
  • Pastoral care staff
  • Other school staff
  • Education psychology service
  • Youth workers
  • Volunteers
  • Governors and PTA
  • Front line perspective and tacit knowledge
  • Network organisations
  • Local organisations and businesses
  • Peers and colleagues
  • Government guidelines
  • Local services
  • Remote services
  • Funding
  • Cash
  • Food vouchers
  • Education research (pre-existing)
  • Education research Covid-19 specific

Outputs

  • Support social distancing and self-isolation
  • Promote good sanitation and hand washing
  • Provide childcare for key workers
  • Repurpose school activities to focus on meeting the immediate needs of children and their families
  • Repurpose school to assist with the Coronavirus response (not education related)
  • Undertake initial needs assessments of children
  • Undertake ongoing needs assessments of children
  • Triage (or RAG rate) children based on need
  • Prepare and distribute home learning packs
  • Prepare and distribute online learning resources
  • Distribute food and food vouchers to families
  • Provide ‘grab bags’ containing essential items
  • Daily calls and welfare checks to families and children
  • Bereavement support
  • Signpost to support and services
  • Refer to social care and services
  • Provide laptops to families
  • Provide data dongles to families
  • Regular email or face to face (via the internet) remote learning support
  • Support parents to support their child’s learning
  • Doorstep visits to children and families
  • Deliver new models of teaching remotely (online lessons and tutorials)
  • Increase pastoral care activity
  • Increase emotional and physical health activity
  • Collaborate with other schools to provide central hubs
  • Collaborate with service providing organisations
  • Develop long term partnerships
  • Policy advocacy and communications activity
  • Share information and good practice locally and across school networks
  • Maintain good governance and oversight
  • Operate staff rota to provide reasonable breaks
  • Increase support measures available to staff
  • Work in central hubs to share staff resources

Outcomes

Physical health and emotional well-being of children

  • Contribute to reducing the transmission of the virus
  • Children of key workers have a safe childcare
  • Children have opportunities for enrichment and fun
  • Children and families manage living in close proximity
  • Children’s vulnerability is monitored and action take to mitigate increased levels of vulnerability
  • Leavers are supported with the transition and have appropriate 'closure'

Learning and academic achievement

  • Children have access to remote learning materials
  • Children have access to the internet
  • Children have access to teachers or tutors to assist with learning
  • Children have access to basic learning equipment (i.e. paper, pens, books)
  • Parents better equipped for home learning
  • Children engaged in learning

Particular attention to disadvantaged and vulnerable children

  • Recognised when a child’s vulnerability has increased
  • Reduced a child’s vulnerability
  • Children have basic needs met
  • Children are protected from abuse, exploitation and risky behaviours.
  • Children in alternative provision have maintained contact with staff
  • Mitigated the growth in the attainment gap
  • Children not on the radar of social services, but who may be on the fringes get the services they need

Getting back to school

  • Solutions for educating children, through diverse and seamless delivery styles that can withstand the public health needs of the nation.
  • Increase in partnerships to support education nationally and locally
  • New educational research results
  • An effective Covid-19 exit strategy is in place
  • Measures in place to address the emotional and academic damage caused
  • Measures in place to address any increased gap the attainment of disadvantaged children
  • Transitioning children are supported in their new environment
  • Schools and communities working together to aid recovery

Informing the future of education

  • Schools are better linked into the civil contingencies effort, as both a recipient of support and community asset.
  • Systems proven to be vital during the Covid-19 response (i.e. food vouchers) are ready to deploy the instant they are required.
  • Local and central Government receive and take into account the views of schools to inform policy and decision making.
  • Impact of school responses to social distancing, especially for vulnerable and disadvantaged children, are used to inform education policy
  • Resilience built in to education system with emergency protocols in place and ready to deploy immediately
  • Re-design of the content of the curriculum and its delivery

Physical health and emotional well-being of workforce

  • Maintained well-being of the workforce
  • Workforce feel safe in their work setting

See the report from the Covid-19 round table