Latest Research Report Published: The academic wellbeing and attitudes to learning of Key Stage 2 pupils following the pandemic

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve published the first wellbeing research report as part of our Nuffield Foundation project The longer-term impact of COVID-19 on pupil attainment and wellbeing.

For this report, we’ve collaborated with Dr Timo Hannay of SchoolDash and Professor Clare Wood from Nottingham Trent University to analyse trends in survey responses from Key Stage 2 children using Wellbeing and Attitudes to Learning: Survey and Strategies. We compared responses from over 21,000 pupils at 145 English state primary schools across three time periods from 2018–2022 to look at differences between groups of children. Although this study is smaller than our usual analysis, the sample was sufficiently broad to allow us to spot early indications of trends which may assist teachers with providing targeted support to children in the future.

The Wellbeing and Attitudes to Learning survey was taken online by pupils and assessed children’s academic wellbeing across four dimensions: positivity, motivation, self-efficacy, and resilience and persistence. A child’s mean score for each dimension was allocated to one of three zones: green, amber or red. Children whose scores fell into the green zone demonstrated satisfactory responses for that dimension, those whose scores were in the amber zone indicated some vulnerability in that dimension, and scores in the red zone indicated that these children were most in need of action to support their academic wellbeing.

Key findings:

  • Since the pre-pandemic period the proportion of children whose responses were satisfactory fell across all dimensions of academic wellbeing, as shown in Figure 1. 
  • Year 3 saw the largest reductions in satisfactory responses across every dimension.
  • Compared to the pre-pandemic period, self-efficacy has had the largest decrease in children with satisfactory responses. The majority of children now report feeling some vulnerability in self-efficacy.
  • A higher percentage of girls than boys are responding that they feel motivated, positive and resilient at school.
  • Since the pandemic a higher percentage of boys report that they have a strong sense of self-efficacy than girls.
  • Schools in the North of England consistently have more children with satisfactory responses across all dimensions.
  • The proportion of children on free school meals does not appear to make a large difference to any dimension of academic wellbeing reported by pupils at the school.


Figure 1: Change in the proportion of responses in the green zone for each dimension over time

To put these findings into a wider context, on 5th December we also ran a webinar with Professor Clare Wood and Jo Quince, the Director of Education at Tennyson Learning Community Trust. If you would like to listen to a recording of the session please click here.

If you would like to read more, the full research report along with our previous work can be found online at:

We’re always interested in hearing feedback on our work to make sure it stays relevant. If you would like to hear first about updates on the research, or if you’re a senior leader in a school and you would like to work with us to ensure our analysis and outputs are providing insights that support you, please do get in touch with us at quoting ‘Nuffield’ and stating your interest in the project. 

This project has been funded by the Nuffield Foundation, but the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the Foundation. Visit


Assessment, ks2, nuffield, wellbeing

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