What Oak National Academy usage tells us about education during the pandemic

  • During the early 2021 peak, Oak provided well over 10,000 resource downloads for teachers each day, as well as more than 3 million daily online lessons for pupils. While online lessons inevitably fell to much lower levels following school re-openings in March, teachers continued to download online resources in large numbers, maintaining about a third of levels seen during lockdown.
  • Usage was broadly based. Over half of all schools in England, and nearly three-quarters of secondary schools, logged at least some teacher activity during the period analysed. Coverage was higher among state schools (54%) than independent schools (39%).
  • Teachers and pupils in poorer areas appeared to make disproportionately heavy use of Oak resources, though there is also evidence that certain types of engagement were lower among more disadvantaged children.
  • Computers, as opposed to mobile phones and other devices, were less likely to be used by pupils in poorer areas, and sessions conducted on mobile phones were only about a quarter as long as those on computers. Furthermore, even those poorer pupils who were using computers tended to show shorter session lengths.
  • Across England, Google Classroom was a more popular choice than Microsoft Teams for teachers to share material with pupils. This was particularly true in London and the south, where Google dominated. Only in the East Midlands was Microsoft ahead.

Figure 1: Pupil and teacher activity during early 2021
Sources: Oak National Academy; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 2: Proportions of schools showing teacher activity
Notes: School deprivation figures are based on pupils' eligibility for free school meals, with bands defined by the DfE. Local deprivation figures based on the mean IDACI of postcodes within a 4km radius of each school, with schools then divided into three roughly equally sized groups. A low proportion of EAL pupils means less than 4% and a high proportion means more than 15%. Small primary schools have fewer than 200 pupils, large ones have more than 320; for secondary and all-through schools, the thresholds are 700 and 1,200, respectively. Small MATs are those with 10 or fewer schools. Urban, suburban and rural groups use ONS categories applied to school postcodes. Coastal schools are those within 5km of the shoreline.
Sources: Oak National Academy; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 3: Proportions of schools showing teacher activity
Notes: See notes to Figure 2.
Sources: Oak National Academy; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 4: Pupil and teacher usage by local childhood deprivation level
Sources: Oak National Academy; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 5: Pupil and teacher usage by local childhood deprivation level
Sources: Oak National Academy; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 6: Proportion of lessons started on a computer
Sources: Oak National Academy; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 7: Proportion of lessons started on a computer, by local deprivation rate
Sources: Oak National Academy; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 8: Session length by device type
Notes: Session durations are normalised so that the average value for computer users during the January-March school closures is 100.
For technical reasons, data for 4th-8th March were unavailable.
Sources: Oak National Academy; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 9: Session length by local deprivation rate
Notes: See notes to Figure 8.
Sources: Oak National Academy; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 10: Proportion of teacher shares by platform
Sources: Oak National Academy; SchoolDash analysis.
 

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