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Researchers from the School of Education have undertaken a survey across the island of Ireland to understand how parents of Post-primary children are coping in the context of a global pandemic.

The study received 2,424 responses finding that with traditional face-to-face educational processes suspended, parents found themselves supporting the learning of their child(ren) in novel ways.

Key findings

Schools' role in supporting learning

  • The experience of home-schooling highlighted the role of relative deprivation in the quality of technology available such as the minimum internet connectivity and equipment required for equitable learning across the education system.
  • Familiarity with the curriculum was low, with only a minority of parents familiar or very familiar with the curriculum which their child(ren) were studying.
  • While many parents expressed confidence in supporting the learning of their child(ren), there was a significant proportion who were not at all confident in doing so.
  • Parents of Special Educational Needs Students reported many issues relating to home-schooling

Schools' role in supporting learning

  • The initial communication provided to parents varied from school to school.
  • To support student learning, curriculum materials/learning resources were provided by many schools, often using email as the mechanism for communication with parents.
  • Communication from schools in most cases was sustained with parents getting updates from school authorities, although several parents reported a lack of updates from their child(ren) 's schools.
  • The majority of parents report that they could contact their child(ren) 's teachers if required. Parents reported a proportion of learners as having no-one to check their schoolwork.

Parents in adapting to home-schooling

  • Almost all parents agreed or strongly agreed on the benefits from talking and listening to their child(ren) during school closures, with most parents agreeing that, although challenging, they found it beneficial to learn together with their child(ren).
  • Juggling work commitments and, by association, the sharing of ICT resources was seen as being a significant challenge for parents in supporting their children's learning.
  • Most parents experienced difficulties with keeping their child(ren) 's attention and understanding the subject content.
  • Managing social isolation was identified as a major issue by many parents.

The report highlights critical vulnerabilities in our system across NI and ROI and outlines a series of recommendations, vital in delivering an agile, flexible education system facing unprecedented uncertainty.