Ask, Listen, Act – Working Together to Inform the Provision of SEND Support for Children after the COVID-19 Pandemic

What is the Study About?

SEND logo

This study, funded by the NIHR, intends to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns on children and young people (CYP) with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The aim of the research is to examine the perceptions, experiences, lessons learnt and priorities of CYP with SEND, their parents/carers and key stakeholders to reduce the inequalities and mitigate the long-term impacts of COVID-19 for CYP with SEND. We have five objectives to achieve this:

  • To examine the evidence and policy
  • To capture the impact and lessons learnt from various perspectives
  • To explore the experiences of CYP with SEND, parents/caregivers and stakeholders
  • To understand potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the long-term development and wellbeing of this generation
  • To work collaboratively with CYP, parents/carers and stakeholders to identify priorities for ‘going forward’ through lockdowns and restarts to promote recovery

You can keep up with our study’s progress on our Twitter page.

What have we learnt so far?

Links to all of our reports and evidence briefings are available below.

  1. Executive summary of the findings
  2. Review of the literature
  3. Evidence briefing: quantitative survey findings
  4. Evidence briefing: qualitative interview findings
  5. Evidence briefing: qualitative responses from education professionals
  6. Evidence briefing: qualitative responses from health and social care professionals
  7. Evidence briefing: workshop findings
  8. Priorities for policy and practice briefing

PowerPoint slides and a recording from our webinar are now available.

What did the study involve?

We have been conducting surveys and interviews with CYP with SEND and their parents/carers, as well as Local Authorities and policymakers, and education, health and social care professionals.

We are now in the process of analysing the data and holding priority-setting groups with parents, children, and professionals. If you are a parent who has been asked to participate via your child’s school, you can read both the parent participation information sheet and the information sheet for children's participation.

The project will run from May to December 2021.

The project team

Dr Emma Ashworth (LJMU) is Principal Investigator for the project. Prof. Amel Alghrani (University of Liverpool) and Prof. Lucy Bray (Edge Hill University) are Co-Applicants. Dr Joanna Kirkby is the Research Assistant on the project. The study is conducted in collaboration with Liverpool Health Partners.

The study is also informed by a steering committee – a group of professionals 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 (active citizen and education professional)
  • Saba Ahmed (Kuumba Imani)
  • Rahima Farah (Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust)

Who to contact for further information

Principal Investigator: Dr Emma Ashworth –


To access the participant information sheets for our Bookshare survey, please see the links below: