Sociological Observations on the UK’s Vaccine Role-Out

The UK has vaccinated more people (proportionate to population) than any other country:

This is probably due to a combination of the following:

  • A successful ‘social policy’ initiative by the UK government – a sustained focus on getting as many people as possible vaccinated in as short a time as possible and the funding to match.
  • Our National Health Service – so having the infrastructure in place already to enable a relatively easy roll-out of the vaccinations.
  • The fact that UK companies are in the front-line of researching and producing the vaccine – so our ‘industrial and knowledge infrastructure’.
  • Possibly the high level of trust people place in the medical profession (not so much in the government).

However, ethnic and class inequalities are still in evidence:

It’s interesting that the UK is so far ahead of the rest of the EU in rolling out the vaccine, so clearly this isn’t just a matter of ‘developed’ countries being better equipped to roll out mass vaccination programmes.

However I think it’s certainly the case that without a functioning Nation State a mass vaccination programme would be much more difficult to roll-out and track.

Ethnic minorities are less likely to have received the vaccine

Lower social classes are less likely to have received the vaccine:

You should be able to apply some perspectives and sociological concepts to analyse why this may be the case – perhaps lower levels of trust in institutions by these groups?

Interestingly India has just started a mass roll-out of vaccines, aiming to inoculate 300 million people by August – I have a feeling they are going to hit their target, despite the much larger number of people and larger geographical area!

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How is Coronavirus Affecting Developing Countries?

It is worth distinguishing first of all between the negative health effects of the virus itself and the negative effects of government lockdowns. The severity of lockdowns and the capacity to enforce them vary from country to country, and so the consequences of this politically imposed response to the pandemic will vary greatly across countries.

EVEN IF the stats are unreliable, governments the world over have responded with lockdown measures in response to public concern, which has very real consequences.

Lockdowns are pushing people into poverty, hunger and children are being pulled out of school

This brief report from the ODI puts a human face on the consequences of Covid-19. They provide a case study of one woman in Nairobi, Kenya, who was eating three meals a day and sending her children to school pre-lockdown.

However, lockdown forced the shutdown of her street food stall and now she is eating one meal a day, the children are meal sharing at another household and she doesn’t have the money to send them back to school.

Coronavirus has pushed another 71 million people into extreme poverty

The World Bank estimates that 71 million more people will be pushed into extreme poverty in 2021 as a result of coronavirus, an increase of 0.5% and taking the total to nearly 9% of the world population, eradicating all progress towards ending extreme poverty since 2017.

A further 170 million people in low to middle income countries will be pushed below the global poverty lines of $3.20 and $5.50 a day.

How covid-19 has affected households in developing countries

Another World Bank report from December 2020 used phone surveys to interview people in IDA (countries qualifying for development assistance, mostly the poorest countries) and non-IDA countries.

The results show that the consequences have generally been harsher for people in developing countries:

  • People in IDA countries are less likely to have stopped working but more likely to have taken cuts in wages.
  • They are more likely to have skipped a meal.
  • Children’s education has suffered much more in IDA countries compared to non-IDA countries
  • Government bail outs are much less common in IDA countries.

This united Nations article suggests that poorer countries lack the capacity to respond to a global pandemic and that coronavirus could create further burdens in those countries having to deal with other major health problems such as aids and malaria.

It further notes that closure of borders will affect those countries reliant on trade, and reduce remittances from abroad (money sent home), reduce migrant labour opportunities and affect those countries which rely on tourism for income.

Covid-19 will increase inequality

A final World Bank report suggests that inequality will increase as a result of Covid-19.

This is based on evidence from how countries have recovered from previous Pandemics.

The theory is that households with resources are better able to weather the negative affects of a downturn, by keeping their children in school for example, and by using savings rather than taking on debt, and so can just ‘carry on’ as normal when economic recover comes, while poorer people are having to play catch up.

It’s explained in this handy infographic:

Those working in the informal sector are hardest hit

This LSE. blog post reminds us that many more people work informally in developed countries – and these people will be the hardest hit by lockdown policies – they are the first to be laid-off when work is reduced and they do not qualify for any government assistance measures either.

Other potential impacts

You should be able to find out about other impacts, such as:

  • In the long term more countries might cut their foreign aid budgets, like Britain has done recently.
  • Charities such as Oxfam are likely to receive less money from the general public.
  • It will be more difficult for migrant labourers to find work because of border restrictions.
  • I dread to think how all of this has affected the movement of refugees!
  • There have probably been more cases of domestic abuse worldwide as a result of lockdowns.
  • Possibly the most devastating long-term affect is the number of days of schooling that children in poorer countries would have missed – low income countries have much less capacity to offer home based, online learning, compared to wealthier countries.

Relevance to A-level sociology

This is mainly relevant to the health and global development topic, but there are also some useful links here to social constructionism and social action theory.

How has Coronavirus Affected the UK?

What are the short and long term affects of Coronavirus for the UK’s social and economic development?

in this post I focus on how Coronavirus has affected health (obviously) education, work and employment, as well economic growth prospects.

There are many more consequences I could focus on, but all of the above are specifically on the Global Development module specification as aspects of development for students of A-level sociology to consider.

How has Coronavirus impacted health in the UK?

NB – forgive me if the stats below date pretty quickly, this is a rapidly evolving situation, and I can’t update every post daily!

At time of writing the total number of covid related deaths in the UK has just surpassed 100 000, in the 11 months since recording of covid-deaths began in March 2020.

You can find out the latest figures at this government site.

The Office for National statistics allows you to look at the latest figures for covid-19 infections and covid-19 related deaths, without any of the ‘panic’ aspects (and without the distractions of flashing adverts) of the mainstream media.

The covid-related death rate is three times higher among men working in elementary and service occupations (the working classes) compared to those working in professional and managerial occupations (the upper middle classes)

There has been a reduction in the quality of care for those with other chronic-conditions, because of a combination of the NHS having to cope with covid-cases, and people being reluctant to seek treatment because of the pandemic.

This is an interesting article from the BBC which outlines the possible long term negative effects on mental health of dealing with Covid – including increased anxiety and OCD (hand washing!), loneliness, a sense of meaningless and uncertainty (anomie?) and depression – not least because of so many people having to deal with loss of someone they know among that 100, 000 death toll.

This research adds to above finding that there were statistically fewer people who started cancer treatment in 2020 compared to 2019, probably because of lower test rates due to covid-19.

How has Coronavirus impacted education in the UK?

Lockdown measures meant that students missed several months of in-school education in 202.

This report by the Nuffield Foundation suggests that pupils started school in September 3 months behind as a result of lockdown in 2020. There is also evidence that poorer students suffered more as they were less able to access online learning provision.

Exams were also cancelled in 2020, but GCSE and A-level pupils received better grades than students in previous years, because of the reliance of Teacher Predicted Grades. It remains to be seen whether this will be the case in 2021.

How has Coronavirus impacted work and employment in the UK?

The effects have varied enormously be sector. The service sectors have been hardest hit, with accommodation and food services suffering a 25% downturn by GDP because of the lockdown rules imposed in response to the pandemic.

Education has also taken quite a hit, but I guess the switch to online learning has lessened the impact here.

The impact has generally been a lot less (somewhat obviously) on sectors where it’s easier to work from home, on professional occupations and on rural occupations.

How has Coronavirus impacted economic growth the in the UK?

The UK has seen a projected decline in GDP growth in 2021 of – 12.9%, which is going to take years to recover from and an expected increase in unemployment going forwards into 2021-2024 – with unemployment figures double that what we’d anticipated for these years.

Also note the debt figures shown in the bottom rows – almost £400 bn borrowed in 2020-21 to cover the cost of dealing with the Pandemic. Not exactly small change!

And then the debt repayments as a percentage of our GDP increase from 5% to 15% – meaning the government is going to be spending 20% more for at least the next five years (and probably longer) to pay for the Pandemic!

This probably means cuts to welfare and public services sometime in 2021 or 2022 – given that the government is neoliberal and will be reluctant to raise taxes, also something which is difficult to do when the economy is struggling.

Selected Sources

HM Gov (November 2020) – Analysis of the Health, Economic and Social Consequences of Covid-19

UK Gov – an enquiry into the impact of covid-19 on education

ONS – Coronavirus impact of covid-19 on Higher Education

The coronavirus class-divide

Those in working class jobs are about two to three times more likely to die of covid-19 related deaths compared to those in middle class jobs.

The Office for National statistics allows you to look at the latest figures for covid-19 infections and covid-19 related deaths, and one of the aspects of the death rate it focuses on is how it varies by occupation.

The covid-related death rate is three times higher among men working in elementary and service occupations (the working classes) compared to those working in professional and managerial occupations (the upper middle classes)

The class difference in the covid related death rate isn’t quite as large for women – those in ‘working class’ jobs are only around twice as likely to die as those in professional jobs…

OK so I’m being quite crude in my measurements of social class, but nonetheless, this is yet more evidence of social class inequality in the UK

Why are the working classes more likely to die from Covid-19?

This article from The Conversation sums it up nicely:

Referring to the ‘coronavirus class divide’ (there’s a not so nice new concept for you!) the answer is very simple:

Working class jobs are the kind of jobs you have to be physically present to be able to do – cleaning, care work, taxi-driving, food and accomodation services – you simply have to be ‘out there’ away from home and you are more likely to be interacting with people.

And thus you are more exposed to the virus if you are working in a manual, working class job:

While if you’re in a managerial or professional role, it is much easier for you to work remotely, to work from home, or if you must go into your workplace, it is easier for you to maintain social distance by shielding yourself in an office or at your individual work station.

The figures for stay at home work, post lockdown, are much higher for those in middle class jobs:

So there is even a class divide when it comes to your chances of contracting and dying from covid-19

Relevance to A-level sociology

This can be used as a rather depressing update to the ‘death rate’ topic which is part of families and households, or the ‘health’ topic within global development.

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A Covid vaccine for the rich, but not the poor?

Moderna is a BioTech company that has had some recent success with a covid-19 vaccine in clinical trials – vaccine mRNA 1273.

There’s a video about it here:

Moderna says it has the capacity to produce 1 billion shots of the vaccine in 2021 and has already sold most of those shots to rich governments, and stands to make an estimated $8 billion next year from the vaccine.

In one deal the US government has agreed to pay $1.5 billion for 100 million shots (pending agreement of emergency legislation in January). The U.S. also has the option to buy a further 500 million doses (it might take two shots per person to work, so that would cover most of the US population).

More recently Modern agreed a deal with the European Union for up to 160 million doses of the vaccine.

Poor countries set to miss out?

As this article from Global Justice Now points out most of this new vaccine has already been bought up by rich world government.

There doesn’t appear to be much hope that developing countries will gain access to this vaccine in 2021, given that those 1 billion shots the company can produce have already been reserved for richer countries.

The rich benefit

Global Justice Now also report (in the article linked above) that this new vaccine has been funded with nearly $2.5 billion of public money, but with governments paying at least another $8 billion on top of this, this really does seem to be a tidy profit for Moderna.

Moderna’s stock has been increasing ever since it started leaking news about positive progress being made on the vaccine, with two leading executives having cashed out shares and made $30 million each.

The stock continues to rise on the back of the deals being struck with western governments for courses of the vaccine. It has quintupled in value since it started work on the vaccine….

Relevance to global development

This topic is clearly relevant to health and development, and also several theories of development.

This is clearly an example of a Transnational Corporation playing a positive role in development – it is developing a vaccine that will help combat a global pandemic, but we need to go further….

This is also an argument against neoliberal theories of development – governments are very involved here – tax payers money has provided a seed fund for this company and it is governments agreeing to buy the vaccine.

Finally, this seems to support global pessimist theories of globalisation – it is governments with the money and thus people in rich countries who are initially going to benefit from this vaccine, the poor in poor countries are going to have to wait.

We don’t know yet how developing countries are going to pay for this vaccine – if they have to pay? Will it be donated, will it be funded with loans?

That remains to be seen, but for now it seems like it’s vaccines for the rich, nothing for the poor!

A simple solution to avoid scrapping exams next year

I really don’t understand why there is such a panic over exams next year, when the solution is quite simple:

  1. Put all other school years not doing exams on a part-home study schedule with about 1/5 of their lessons to be done at home, self-study for the duration of the exams.
  2. This means every class gets 1 day home-study a week, make it the same day of the week per class for simplicity. So class 1A is always Monday, class 1B always Wednesday and so on.
  3. This will free up 1/5th of classrooms, set them up as exam-rooms.
  4. 1/5th of classrooms will be equivalent to the entire cohort (year 11) sitting their GCSE exams, so sufficient room even for those large compulsory exams such as English.
  5. If classrooms are a little cramped, a portion of the class could sit the exam in the regular exam hall (typically the sports hall) – but the extra space created by the classrooms being used should allow an extra measure of social distancing.
  6. Simply get GCSE students to sit their exams in their regular class-sets, even if in different class rooms.
  7. If necessary mix the teachers up as invigilators and get volunteer parents in to be second invigilators.

As far as I can see it the above is a pretty minimally disruptive way of minimising disruption for regular teaching while maintaining ‘class bubbles’ and the integrity of the exams.

Parents coming into the school will not increase the risk of transmission of covid compared their kids coming in!

OK there will be a bit more mixing of people than in regular classrooms, but honestly, will it be more than takes place during regular break times?

OK it’s a bit of hassle for the parents who may need one day off of work a week to look after their children, but it’s only for a month of exams.

I fail to see what all the fuss is about!

Of course with A-levels it should be a no-brainer to not scrap them – with those you COULD send the entirety of year 12 home to study independently for 3 weeks while the exams take place which really would create sufficient classroom space for the A-levels – year 12s are 16/17 so need no legal adult supervision at home!

Then teachers can simply teach the year 12s until the bitter-end of the summer term -right up until the 20th of July if necessary, rather than letting it all ease off.

The Economic Consequences of Coronavirus (part 1)

what are the economic consequences of covid-19?

Coronavirus has had a negative effect on economic growth. Lockdown measures imposed by governments the world over have seen disruption to global supply chains, a decrease in international trade, an increase in unemployment, and a decrease in investment and global wealth in general.

Coronavirus has decreased global wealth

Probably the easiest way to summarise the economic consequences of coronavirus is to look at the impact it has had on Global Wealth, which I’ve already summarised in this blog post here.

Global Wealth has decreased by $8 trillion compared to where it was projected it would have been before the outbreak of the pandemic.

Personally I find this the most useful individual indicator, as it just takes one static gross snap shot figure and compares it with another, it’s very easy to understand.

Coronavirus has pushed most countries into recession

The latest data from the International Monetary Fund shows most countries with less than 0% GDP growth for 2020, so negative growth, that’s all countries in red below, accessed November 2020.

However, we need to look at a lot more figures to get a fuller picture.

Further reports emphasise the near universal negative consequences of Coronavirus:

This report (June 2020) by the World Bank predicts a 5% decrease in global GDP over the coming year, the largest decline since the 1870s, with all regions and countries showing significant cuts to their expected (pre-covid) economic growth rates.

The consequences of this economic slowdown which will be declining rates of investment, job losses and a corresponding decline in the rate social development in many developing countries.

Some sectors have been especially badly hit – the price of oil fell drastically with the Pandemic, but the agricultural sector has not been so badly effected. As a general rule, you might say that the less essential the sector, then the more it has been affected!

This report highlights that no country will escape the effects of Covid-19 unscathed, but China and Asia will probably fair better than the rest.

How Coronavirus Disrupted Global Supply Chains

The immediate impact of Coronavirus was a significant disruption to global supply chains, meaning that many global retailers struggled to maintain stocks of their products.

Supply chain problems also meant that manufacturers had to slow down or cease production of their products altogether, because they struggled to source raw materials.

Lockdown measures imposed in China in early 2020 were the main cause of this, because China is the world’s biggest manufacturer – it not only produces a lot of ‘end products’ (such as iPhones) but it also manufactures a lot of components that factories in other parts of the world need in the products they produce.

To find out more, this article by Bloomburg outlines how disruption to global supply chains impacted a variety of businesses all over the world – from watchmakers in Hong Kong to Lobster fishermen in New Zealand, it does a great job of highlighting the truly global effects of the Pandemic.

According to analysis of data on Tradeshift (a global supply platform) by the World Economic Forum global trade fell dramatically in February – April 2020. Chinese trade transactions fell by over 50% in March 2020, and the United States and Europe followed suit with a 26% drop in April, and a 17% drop after that.

The article suggests that as Chinese trade declined because of lockdown measures, global manufacturers struggled to source materials from other countries and so their production also slowed down.

What Coronavirus has revealed is that the world has become very dependent on China as the source of products – and when it goes into lockdown the rest of the world suffers.

The article further suggests that manufactures will probably look to diversify their supply bases in the future so as to be less dependent on China – and countries such as India, Vietnam and Mexico will probably be the main beneficiaries from this.

Another possible change might be more production in developed countries, further decentralising global supply networks,

So maybe the long term impact of globalisation will be a much more diverse form of economic globalisation (with China being less dominant) and maybe a reversal of the globalisation of manufacturing if we end up with more manufacturing taking place in developed countries?

The effects of Coronavirus on Transnational Corporations

A 2020 World Bank survey of Multinational Enterprises found that more than 90% had been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

75% reported decreasing reliability of supply chains (meaning more difficulty in producing stuff) and decreasing worker productivity.

Half of MNEs surveyed have cut investment in developing countries by an average of 30% and 40% have reduced employment by an average of 16% – so overall that’s an average reducing of 15% investment and around 7% in employment.

The report (linked above) calls on governments to provide tax breaks to MNEs as well as more deregulation, so in other words more neoliberalisation, which is unsurprising coming from the World Bank.

Not all sectors have been affected equally

As has been reported widely, sectors of the economy associated with travel and leisure, such as the oil and aviation sectors have been affected very badly, with the number of flights taken being significantly reduced.

However, one sector which is doing better, with the hope of a vaccine coming soon, is the Pharmaceutical sector:

NB – these aren’t the only economic consequences of Coronavirus – I will cover the human cost in a separate post, in which I focus on the disruption to people’s working lives – the small enterprises struggling with lockdown measures, and how so many people are struggling to cope with reduced income and job losses.

Selected Sources

World Economic Forum: Here’s how global supply chains will change after COVID-19

Bloomburg: The Virus is interrupting Supply Chains

The impact of Coronavirus on Global Wealth

This post focuses on a recent report produced by Credit Suisse. It is primarily written for students studying the Global Development option for A-level sociology, and is meant to serve as an update on Global inequalities!

In 2019, Privately Owned Global Wealth had grown to $399 trillion, an almost 9% increase on the previous year, according to Credit Suisse’s latest 2020 Global Wealth Report, which focuses on both wealth trends to 2019 and the impacts of Coronavirus on wealth up until June 2020.

That 9% increase from 2018 continued a long term trend of increasing wealth over the last two decades. In the year 2000, global wealth stood at $118 trillion (at current US prices) and has risen on average by 6.6% per annum since then, with a significant decrease (and subsequent recovery) in 2008 with the financial crisis.

NB – wealth is not distributed evenly and the map below shows the median net private wealth per household in different countries in 2019,

The impact of Coronavirus on Global Wealth

The Global Wealth Report notes that to June 2020 Coronavirus has cost the global economy around $8 trillion, in terms of what economic growth was predicted to be.

We see a rapid decline in global wealth per person January to March, when Coronavirus was taking hold, but then a recover, as governments around the world stepped in with stimulus packages.

The chart above also shows you that we’ve basically just had zero growth in wealth since from 2019 to June 2020.

However, you can see that by June 2020 there has been a decline in wealth per person of around $3 000, compared to projected growth which never happened!

The Economic Impact of Coronavrius on Different Regions

The chart below shows the impact by region

The impact of Coronavirus up until June 2020 seems to have been minimal on most regions if we compare the 2019 projections with the actual figures to June 2020.

The global average decline in wealth to June 2020 is – 2%, and most regions have seen around a 2% decline, compared to what was expected, overall we simply have almost 0 global growth compared to an anticipated 2% increase!

There are minor variations across regions, but nothing too significant according to the figures above!

There are significant variations by country

However, if we look at the impact of Coronavirus on wealth by country, we do see significant differences emerging:

The above chart shows us that to June 2020 the UK’s average household wealth declined by 7%, while China’s increased by 4%. Meanwhile the USA has seen almost no change to private household wealth!

This infographic shows the biggest percentage gains and losses per individual by country

We can see some dramatic variation here, with Brazil and South Africa’s per person wealth declining by around 25%, supposedly due to Coronavirus, while quite an eclectic mixture of countries have seen their individual wealth increase by 5%

NB – the figures look more dramatic if you look t the dollar amounts:!

Projections for future wealth growth

The Global Wealth Report is optimistic about future growth potential in most regions, especially India and China

How valid is this data?

NB – this report is latest based on available data, but it was written before the latest wave of lockdowns in November 2020.

The report is very clear that these global wealth trends could change dramatically depending on how Coronavirus and the societal reaction to it develops!

You need to be sceptical I think about the focus of this report – it is on global wealth, rather than global poverty, if you look at the later (poverty not wealth) you realise that there are millions of people around the world who are being pushed into poverty because of Coronavirus (more of that later!) – but you miss out on this in this report because it’s been written mainly (I think) for a Western audience, and you get the impression that’s everything is OK.

This report by Alianz and the World Bank gives you a different impression, talks of a ‘wealth buffer’ which insulates the wealthy from the worst effects of the economic downturn caused by the Pandemic, but it also talks about how millions of those towards the bottom are being pushed into extreme poverty.

You might remember that above the Credit Suisse report shows a negative 2% economic growth rate in Africa, then says nothing else about it – well, that basically means a LOT more people pushed into poverty, which is what the Allianz/ World Bank report focuses on!

Note: Definition of ‘Net Worth’ or Wealth

According to the Global Wealth Report, Net worth, or “wealth,” is the value of financial assets plus real assets (principally housing) owned by households, minus their debts. This figure includes the net value of all the assets a household owns if sold and their private pension fund assets. The figure does not include any state entitlements/ benefits or state debts.

If that wealth average wealth were distributed equally then every adult would have around $77 000. H

In 2019, Privately Owned Global Wealth had grown to $399 trillion, an almost 9% increase on the previous year, and continuing a long term trend of increasing wealth over the last two decades.

16-24 year olds hit hardest by Coronavirus Pandemic

How has coronavirus affected the young?

The government’s response to the Coronavirus Pandemic primarily focused on protecting the very old, who have the highest chance of dying with (although not necessarily from) Covid-19 if they catch it.

However, the drastic lock down strategy introduced back in March 2020, which closed all schools in England and Wales as well as many work places for several months has left children ad young adults ‘scarred for life’ according to many experts within SAGE (The Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies), as summarised in this Guardian article.

Children have been negatively impacted through their schools being closed for 4 months, with some being hit further by local lockdowns more recently in September and October.

While schools did put in place online learning programmes, the quality of these varied from school to school and many children have been left 6 months behind with their learning, having now to catch up.

Then there’s the damage done to children’s social development – with their not being able to go out for 4 months and socialise face to face, and the added stress and uncertainty of just being subject to the ‘covid-climate’ in Britain (it hasn’t exactly been a fun or easy going year has it?!?).

If there’s any truth in Sue Palmer’s theory about toxic childhood, keeping children indoors for extended periods most definitely wouldn’t have done their mental health any good, which is something the SAGE experts are particularly concerned about!

While it might seem that 16 and 18 year olds who sat exams in 2020 got of relatively lightly because of their school predicted grades being inflated, let’s not forget that this would have been stressful and unpleasant for many of them, and we’ve now also got about 10% of these students enrolled on A-level programmes or degrees their probably not qualified to do because of their inflated grades, so there’s probably going to be higher failure rates and drop-out rates to come later this year.

Where young adults are concerned (18-24s) this age group has been most affected by the increase in unemployment in the wake of the Pandemic:

(The graphic shows 16-24s, but there aren’t that many under 18s in employment, so it’s mainly 18-24 year olds)

I guess this is because they are more likely to be working in the kinds of sectors which have been hit hardest by the virus – namely the hospitality sector, and while Furlough would have offered some protection, many hospitality sectors businesses are now starting to fold as consumers are just more reluctant to eat and drink out.

Looking at the longer term – if we have a recession, it’s likely to be younger people that suffer more as they struggle with the legacy of a disrupted education and fewer opportunities to get their first jobs.

Relevance to A-level sociology

Age stratification isn’t a major topic in most options, but perhaps it should be, as this is a great example of how the young seem to be suffering more than any other age group.

It certainly shows the limitations of the government’s capacity to deal with a crisis. Anthony Giddens famously said that Nation States are too small to deal with global problems – and here we have a government simply not having the resources to help everyone in society when faced with a global pandemic.

IF you think we need the government to help us through this mess, then this is a criticism of neoliberalism, which argues for less government.

However, you might just regard such reports as the one linked above by The Guardian as part of an exaggerated risk consciousness, and think that maybe young people haven’t been harmed at all by this crisis – maybe they are perfectly capable of being innovative and adapting to this crisis in new ways we haven’t even thought about yet?!?

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How has Coronavirus Affected Education?

The most obvious impact of the 2020 Coronavirus on education was the cancellation of GCSE and A-level exams, with the media focusing on the chaos caused by teacher predicted grades being downgraded by the exam authority’s algorithm and then the government U-turn which reinstated the original teacher predicted grades.

While it’s fair to say that this whole ‘exam debacle’ was stressful for most students, in the end the end of exam period cohorts ended up getting a good deal, on average, as they were able to pick whichever ‘result’ was best.

It’s also fair to say, maybe, that most of the students who missed their GCSEs and A-levels didn’t miss out on that much education – what they missed out on, mostly, was the extensive period of ‘exam training’ which comes just before the exam, which are skills that aren’t really applicable in real life.

However, in addition to the exam year cohorts, there were also several other years of students – primary and secondary school students, and older students, doing apprenticeships and degrees, whose ‘real education’ has been impacted by Covid-19.

This article focuses on some of the recent research that’s focused on these ‘other’ less newsworthy students.

This post has primarily been written to get students studying A-level sociology thinking about methods in context, or how to apply research methods to the study of different topics within education.

Research studies on the impact of Coronavirus on Education.

I’ve included three sources with lots of research: the DFE, The NFER and the Sutton Trust, and then a few other sources as well.

The Department for Education (DFE)

The DFE Guidance for Schools resources seems like a sensible place to start for information on the impact of the pandemic on schools.

The Guidance for the Full Opening of Schools recommends seven main measures to control the spread of the virus.

This guidance suggests there is going to be a lot more pressure on teachers to ‘police’ pupils actions and interactions – although ‘social distancing’ is required only dependent on the individual school’s circumstances, and face coverings are not mandatory. So schools do have some discretion.

All in all, it just looks like schools are going to be quite a lot more unpleasant and stressful places to be in as various measures are put in place to try and ensure contact between pupils is being limited.

The National Foundation of Education Research (NFER)

The NFER has produced several mainly survey based research studies looking at the impact of Coronavirus on schools.

One NFER survey of almost 3000 senior leaders and teachers in 2200 schools across England and Wales asking them about the challenges they face from September 2020.

The main findings of this survey are as follows:

  • teachers report that their students are an average of three months behind with their studies after missing school due to Lockdown
  • Teachers in the most deprived schools are three times more likely to report that their pupils are four months behind compared to those in the least deprived schools.
  • Over 25% of pupils had limited access to computer facilities during lock down. This was more of a problem for pupils from deprived areas.
  • Teacher anticipate that 44% of pupils will need catch up lessons in the coming academic year.
  • Schools are prioritizing students’ mental health and well being ahead of getting them caught up.

The Sutton Trust

The Sutton Trust has several reports which focus on the impact of Coronavirus, specifically on education. The reports look at the impacts on early-years and apprenticeships, for example.

A report by the Sutton Trust on the impact of the school shutdown in April noted some of the following key findings:

  • Private schools were about twice as likely to have well-established online learning platforms compared to state schools, correspondingly privately schooled children were twice as likely to receive daily online lessons compared to state school children.
  • 75% of parents with postgraduate degrees felt confident about educating their children at home, compared to less than half of parents with A-levels as their highest level of qualification
  • 50% of teachers in private schools said they’d received more than three quarters of the work back, compared to only 8% in the most deprived state schools.

Research from other organisations

  • This article from the World Economic Forum provides an interesting global perspective on the impact of coronavirus – with more than a billion children worldwide having been out of school. It highlights that online learning might become more central going forwards, but points out that access to online education various massively from country to country.
  • The Institute for Fiscal studies produced a report in July focusing on the financial impacts of Coronavirus on Universities. They estimate that the sector will have lost £11 billion in one year, a quarter of income, and that around 5% of providers probably won’t be able to survive without government assistance.
  • This article in The Conversation does a cross national comparison of how schools in four countries opened up. They grade their approach. It’s an interesting example of how some social policies are more effective than others!

Final Thoughts

I’ve by no means covered all the available research, rather I’ve tried to get some breadth in here, looking at the impact on teachers and pupils, and at things globally too.

By all means drop some links to further research in the comments!