New research examines experiences of home-schooling children with special educational needs and disabilities during COVID-19

A study has been launched to investigate how parents and families navigate the additional pressures of home-schooling children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) during the coronavirus pandemic.  

The research, led by Dr Carolyn Blackburn of the Cultures in Education Research Group at Birmingham City University, is a response to the vast majority of families in the UK who are now having to home school their children due to the effects of COVID-19.

The virus has led to an increased reliance in online learning and video conferencing with teachers, but Dr Blackburn argues that children with SEND often need highly specialist resources and pedagogical approaches not easily replicated in the home.

Increased pressure on parents

Depending on the severity of their condition, children with SEND may need highly structured, predictable routines, calm, uncluttered learning environments and patient, specialist teachers.

Carolyn hypothesises that families may be experiencing negative effects due to feeling ill-equipped to deliver SEND education.

‘Home-schooling effectively limits access to sometimes vital resources for children with SEND, and parents may be left without the necessary tools and expertise to provide an education comparable with traditional schooling.’

Identifying challenges and solutions in home-schooling

The study aims to build on previous research about home-schooling and home education more generally to explore and record the experiences of parents as they navigate their way through the current restrictions whilst ensuring the health and wellbeing of their family.

Utilising an online survey, the research team will gather initial data and conduct follow up interviews.

The data will be used to ascertain the pressure points for families during this time, as well as coping mechanisms, identifying support and highlight where further support is needed.

The research will produce reports which will inform guidelines for schools and policy makers.

Find out more by visiting the Cultures in Education project page.