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New report: ‘Data on teachers’ lives during the pandemic’

Wed Mar 31, 2021
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This report looks at how the pandemic has affected teachers and pupils across the country during various lockdown periods

A report by the ODI, published today, looks at the impact of the pandemic on teachers’ lives through the lens of new data made available to the ODI

Our rapid-response ‘Data on teachers’ lives during the pandemic’ report looks at the impact of the pandemic on teachers’ and pupils’ lives, through the lens of new data made available to the ODI, as well as various open data sources and in-depth qualitative research.

The ODI team worked for the first time with the NASUWT, the Teachers’ Union, and was given access to new aggregated and anonymised data from the teaching union’s annual ‘Big Question’ survey. This helped to paint a picture through data of how the pandemic has affected teachers and pupils across the country during various lockdown periods and the closure of schools.

Continuing on from last November’s ‘Data about children’s lives in the pandemic’ report, this new report aims to demonstrate how timely and systematic national data collection can provide valuable insights into the most urgent and pressing challenges of our time. The project team also examined open government data from the Department for Education.

The report highlights major data gaps in the UK’s education sector, and the ODI calls on organisations to consider how datasets they hold could be effectively and ethically shared.

ODI Managing Director, Louise Burke, said:

“The ODI chose to work with the NASUWT because we both recognise that there is currently not a clear enough picture of what is happening in schools. Without more data and a variety of datasets, no one knows the full extent of the problems currently being faced by teachers, pupils and parents, and what that means as we come out of lockdown. Better data infrastructure would create a much-needed early warning system, helping policy-makers and those providing support to teachers to see the full impact of the pandemic and who most needs help.”

Some of the report’s key findings include:

  • The disproportionate impact of remote learning on teachers working in special schools, older staff and those working in deprived areas.
  • There is a lack of timely data on teacher experience: the most up to date official statistics on the School Workforce in England are from 2019 – figures for 2020 will not be published until July. 
  • There is a lack of granular data on teacher retention: currently teacher retention data is only available at national level. Making it openly available at the level of different sectors and regions would increase the transparency of educational management

Data privacy and ethics

Alongside the report, an ODI Data Ethics Canvas was completed and published in relation to this piece of work. The Data Ethics Canvas is a tool created by the ODI for anyone who collects, shares or uses data, helping to identify and manage ethical issues.

All the data received from the NASUWT was aggregated and anonymised to protect the privacy of the data owners and also to preclude any bias or unethical use of the data.

Read the full report and explore the data analysis here. The tool allows anyone to investigate the NASUWT’s ‘Big Question’ member response data.

The report lead was Dr. Miranda Voss. The research for this project was carried out by the ODI in collaboration with two partners: ​Allegory, a strategic communication agency who has worked with the ODI for eight years and is responsible for the research project management and communications; ​and ​Mime Consulting, an educational data consultancy, who combined 2021 NASUWT annual ‘Big Question’ member responses with other open and publicly available data  to identify trends. This was then anonymised, aggregated, published as open data and made available for exploration through an interactive tool on the ODI website.