Major new study into impacts of COVID-19 on children

A major study has been launched to learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Youngsters with dyslexia, physical needs and mental health issues have been disproportionately impacted during the pandemic.

Over the next six month, the project team will work with children, parents and professionals to co-develop key priorities for the future to reduce the long-term effects  for these children.

The study, funded by the National Institute of Health Research, is being led by researchers from Liverpool John Moores University, Edge Hill University, the University of Liverpool, Liverpool Health Partners and a steering group of key stakeholders, parents and children and young people.

Seeking views

The study, which aims to inform policy and funding priorities both locally and nationally, is entitled Ask, Listen, Act – Working Together to Inform the Provision of SEND Support for Children after the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The research will seek the views and opinions of children and young people with SEND, their parents/carers, local authorities and policymakers, as well as education, health, and social care professionals across the UK through short online surveys, interviews, and stakeholder discussion groups.

The research team have worked hard to develop surveys that are accessible for as many young people as possible, enabling children aged between five and 15 years to answer in a range of ways; simple question and answer formats, drawing and labelling pictures, and using emojis.

Dr Emma Ashworth, a lecturer in psychology at Liverpool John Moores University and lead researcher, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly challenging for some young people with SEND in terms of their education, health and social care, and their needs have often been overlooked.

“As we come out of lockdown and move into recovery post-pandemic, we want to understand more about the impact that the last year has had on these young people, and the ways in which we can buffer any long-term negative effects moving forward.

“We are hoping to hear from as many young people and their families as possible, to help us gain a clear picture of the key priorities for the future, for all children with SEND”.


Professor Amel Alghrani, of the University of Liverpool, said: “The Coronavirus Act 2020 contained several measures which directly affected SEND children.

“This survey provides us with an opportunity to hear from those directly involved and affected by these legal changes, on what impact (if any) they had during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Professor Lucy Bray of Edge Hill University said: “Children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities have been particularly impacted by COVID over the last year.

“We want to hear directly from children about what matters most to them as we ‘move forward’ over the next year, we want to know if they were in charge what would they do?. We are really looking forward to seeing all the children’s pictures and hearing about what they think.” 

Notes to editors:

The study is also informed by a steering committee a group of professionals with an interest or expertise in the SEND field:

Steve Reddy (Liverpool City Council); Melissa Gladstone (Alder Hey Children’s Hospital/University of Liverpool); Vanda Reeves (ADDvanced Solutions); Caireen Sutherland (RNIB); Louise Bason (Liverpool Educational Psychology Service); Gareth Morewood (SEND consultant); Seamus Byrne (NI Human Rights Commission); Rachael Graham (Sense); Dougy Oliver (The Hive Youth Zone); Chris Rees (Council for Disabled Children); Deborah Tyfield (University of Liverpool); Lisa Nolan (Liverpool CCG); Jenny Grimes (Alder Hey Children’s Hospital); Joann Kiernan (Edge Hill University); Kate Oulton (Great Ormond Street Hospital); Diane Garrison (education) Saba Ahmed (Community Development Worker), Rahima Farah (Advocacy worker, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust).

Liverpool Health Partners is the Academic Health Science System for Cheshire and Merseyside. By collaborating with expert partners, encouraging conversations across the region and sharing our expertise we can improve population health outcomes and economic productivity for the better.


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