In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic instigated a nationwide lockdown and children in Wales experienced a range of impacts including restricted movement and changes within education provision. This included the closure of schools during the national lockdown periods of March 2020 to June 2020, and January 2021 and March 2021. Between these periods schools operated a ‘bubble’ system, whereby children were only allowed to mix with a small number of predetermined classmates. These restrictions and changes had a significant impact on the educational, social, and emotional experiences of children, teachers and parents and carers.

A new report has been launched that presents the findings generated in a Welsh Government commissioned study of education in the COVID-19 pandemic that involved children aged 5-7 (n=30), teachers (n= 6) and parents and carers (n=18) in Wales. The study sought to offer a platform for the voices of children and provide opportunities for them to share their experiences of the pandemic. The study generated data using creative methodologies, field notes and qualitative interviews, which enable insights into the subjective experiences of children during the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Missing Friends’

Children reporting feelings of loss, sadness and loneliness which are indicative of negative impacts on wellbeing. Children missed physically attending school, seeing teachers and being within the classroom environment. However, they also talked about the importance of family, pets, teachers, and the natural environment, as well as some of the affordances and limitations of digital technologies and remote modes of communication. The study highlighted young children’s capability to voice their experience and also enact agency in curriculum making and the direction of their learning; and the report makes a series of recommendations for policy and practice drawing from the accounts of children.

This report will be an important resource for anyone who has an interest in young children’s experiences of education during the Covid-19 pandemic, and those interested in ways to engage young children and facilitate them to share their experiences through creative methods. The methods and findings of this study offer useful insights for teachers, education policy makers, parents and carers, community organisations, and researchers.

The full report is available here and here

Tyrie, J., Chicken, S., Knight, C., Mannay, D., Tur Porres, G., Waters–Davies, J., Westall, A., Waites, T., Grout, E., Parnell, J., Bond, A. and Handley, B. 2022. COVID–19, Education and Learning: Amplifying Young Children’s Voices. Cardiff: Welsh Government

Principal Investigator: Dr Jacky Tyrie – Swansea University –

Co-investigators: Dr Sarah Chicken, Dr Cathryn Knight, Dr Dawn Mannay, Dr Gisselle Tur Porres, Tegan Waites, Dr Jane Waters–Davies, Anna Westall – Researchers: Amy Bond, Ellie Grout, Bridget Handley, Dr Jade Parnel.