Study team visit Liverpool schools to find out how pandemic has affected children with SEND

Dr Joanna Kirkby, Research Assistant, Ask, Listen, Act study, Liverpool John Moores University 

The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns have been a challenge for everyone.

For children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) it has been particularly hard.

I’m part of a team of researchers who developed the Ask Listen Act study to look at experiences, lessons learned and priorities for this group, their parents/carers and stakeholders to reduce long-term impacts of the pandemic on them.

Special educational needs and disabilities include a range of difficulties or conditions, including those relating to communication and interaction, cognition and learning, social, emotional and mental health difficulties, and physical/sensory needs, as well as those with disabilities and specific learning difficulties.

We’ve gathered as many responses as possible and designed the survey so children could reply in a simple question and answer format, drawing or labelling pictures and using emojis.

The study team recently visited Hope School in Belle Vale and Abbot’s Lea School in Woolton, to help understand what is most important to children with SEND as we move out of the pandemic.

Children had their say through a range of interactive activities, including writing a postcard to the Prime Minister about what the pandemic was like for them.

We had a fantastic response and great engagement from the children, whose voices will help us to co-create recommendations for national policymakers. We want to say a special thank you to the schools and all the children who took part.

The study, funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), is being led by researchers from Liverpool John Moores University, Edge Hill University, the University of Liverpool and Liverpool Health Partners. The study team will present the findings at an online launch event on January 20. You can register at