Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to questions on the organisations behind the study, its location and focus, and the way findings will be used.

The study is a cross-organisational collaboration led by the UCL Centre for Education Policy & Equalising Opportunities (CEPEO), the Sutton Trust and the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies. The team combines world-leading expertise in education, social mobility and the design, management and analysis of longitudinal cohort studies. CEPEO and CLS lead on the design, management and delivery of the study. Kantar Public are conducting the fieldwork, along with NatCen Social Research. The Sutton Trust is leveraging its extensive experience in research communications and policy influence to lead on maximising the impact of the findings.

To set up the study quickly enough to recruit the 2020-21 cohort of Year 11s, it needed to build on pre-existing data infrastructure, but this varies significantly between the constituent countries of the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, achieving a representative sample of young people across the whole UK in this timescale was not possible. However, the study is working closely with existing studies of children in Scotland (Growing Up in Scotland) and Wales (the Schools Health Research Network) to align data collection and ask similar questions so that all three studies can learn lessons about the effects of the COVID–19 pandemic across Great Britain.

This study uses a ‘cohort’ approach to look at young people at the same stage of their education when the pandemic hit, and then follow them into the future to explore how different factors influence that journey. The cohort of Year 11s that the study is following faced two disrupted school years, cancelled GCSEs and a transition into post-16 pathways at a time of great disruption. They were at a particularly crucial point in their education at the height of the pandemic, though of course young people of all ages have been impacted.

Using evidence from previous cohort studies, the study is ensuring that it includes strong representation of disadvantaged, ethnic minority and other groups at risk of social exclusion within the sample. As part of this, we have invited more students from these groups to take part (oversampling), in order to reflect the full breadth of experiences of the pandemic, as well as a targeted approach to face-to-face follow ups for those who haven’t responded to the web survey.

We will publish key findings from each wave of the survey, across areas covered by the study. The data will be made available to researchers and organisations across the UK and around the world. We will also be working with key partners such as the Department for Education and the Office for Students to maximise the policy impact of our findings. The first findings will be published in autumn 2022.

To ensure the study recruits a sample that is representative of young people across England, families were randomly selected and contacted by post during the 2021/22 school year. We have no plans to expand the study beyond this initial group.