NUI Galway Publish Findings from Schooling at Home Survey

Nov 10 2020 Posted: 09:56 GMT

Findings include increased anxiety, learning less at home, and decline in interest

Researchers from the School of Education at NUI Galway have published the findings of the online survey of parents’, children’s and young people’s experiences of ‘schooling at home’. The report, ‘Schooling at Home in Ireland during COVID-19: Perspectives and Experiences of Primary and Second-level Students and their Parents’, was conducted between June and August of this year and carried out in collaboration with the National Parents’ Council Primary.

Responses were obtained from 2,733 parents, 896 primary school students and 293 second-level students.

Dr Niamh Flynn, lead researcher on the study and lecturer with NUI Galway’s School of Education, said: “A priority of the research was to capture the voices of children and young people in relation to their lived experiences of ‘schooling at home’ during the period of the school building closures. Taking advantage of a time-point that allowed for reflection on the entire period of school building closures, the study illuminates students’ perceptions of learning less, becoming less motivated over time, and being more stressed and anxious in the ‘schooling at home’ context relative to the traditional school context.”

Key findings from the study:

  • Perceptions of poorer learning progress at home than at school: A small majority of primary school participants (52%) and a large majority of second-level participants (73%) felt that they had learned less at home than at school.
  • Decline in interest in ‘schooling at home’ over time: Parents and students were clear that interest and engagement in ‘schooling at home’ had decreased significantly over the relevant time period (82% of primary parents, 71% of second-level parents, 67% of second-level students).
  • Inadequate technology to support ‘schooling at home’ in some homes: Approximately 27% of both primary and second-level parents reported that they did not have enough devices to support ‘schooling at home’. 8.3% of primary parents and 12.2% of second-level parents reported that they had inadequate internet connection.
  • Increased stress and anxiety among parents and students: Many students and parents reported experiencing increased levels of stress and anxiety. Students greatly missed their friends and the social interaction inherent in school life. Parents worried about their children’s academic progress, social-emotional development, and mental health. A small number of parents felt that their children benefited from individual support, more family time and freedom to learn new or different things.
  • The impossibility of juggling work-home-children responsibilities: Working parents and/or parents with several children, with no childcare, found juggling multiple work-home-children responsibilities exhausting, “impossible”, and unsustainable.
  • Need for children to return to school full-time: A very prominent theme in parent responses was the need for children to return to school full-time for academic, social, and mental health reasons. In general, students were positive about returning to school.
  • Calls for more consistency and direction from the Department of Education and Skills (DES): Some parents and students emphasised the need for more live teaching and feedback on completed work if ‘schooling at home’ were to resume. A strong desire for more consistency and direction from the DES in relation to remote learning provision by schools was emphasised by parents.

Dr Elaine Keane, co-researcher of the study and Senior Lecturer with NUI Galway’s School of Education, said: “The study speaks to the unsustainability for working parents and/or parents with several children, with no childcare, of juggling support for ‘schooling at home’ across multiple learning levels with work-home-childcare responsibilities during a period of school closures.”

Professor Gerry MacRuairc, co-researcher and Head of the School of Education at NUI Galway, said: “Appropriate support and training is needed for all principals and teachers in developing good practice for remote and blended teaching and learning. It would seem timely to focus now on ensuring a more integrated model of learning that draws on the more explicit integration of online platforms and teaching and learning strategies into future pedagogy as a matter of course.”

The full report and executive summary of the study findings is available at:


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