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Concerns raised over aspects of wellbeing for primary school pupils in England as resilience levels decline

A new study has highlighted the continued need for wellbeing support for pupils impacted by the 2020-2021 pandemic lockdowns.

Group of children in backpacks on the way to school
Only two in five children said they have confidence in their ability to achieve following lockdowns

Aspects of school wellbeing of primary school children have been highlighted as a concern in a new report of 21,000 Key Stage 2 primary school pupils in England by RS Assessment from Hodder Education, SchoolDash and Nottingham Trent University.

The research, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, highlights a reduction in resilience, motivation, self-efficacy and positivity levels among children aged 7 to 11 years, some of whom would have begun their education at the time in which the country saw an unprecedented interruption to learning.

The key findings from the paper include:

  • Since the pre-pandemic period, the proportion of children whose responses were satisfactory fell across four dimensions of academic wellbeing (see image above).  The decreases were small for positivity and motivation which both decreased by 7%, whereas self-efficacy decreased by 18% and resilience decreased by 11%.
  • Year 3 saw the largest reductions in satisfactory responses across every dimension. While this year group showed the highest levels of positivity before the pandemic, more children in Year 3 now report either some vulnerability or not feeling positive about school compared to pre-pandemic levels, an 8% increase.
  • Compared to the pre-pandemic period, self-efficacy (defined as children’s beliefs about their capability to succeed and pursue their goals) has had the largest decrease in satisfactory responses. The majority of Key Stage 2 pupils in the most recent school year report feeling some vulnerability in self-efficacy with large (14%), drops across all years since 2018.
  • A higher percentage of girls than boys are responding that they feel motivated, positive and resilient at school, however, the gender difference has reduced over time.
  • Since the pandemic a higher percentage of boys report that they feel capable at school than girls. Only 36% of girls say they believe they are capable compared to 43% of boys, a reduction of 27% in girls’ self-efficacy since 2018.
  • Since the pandemic, schools in the North of England have more children with satisfactory responses across all dimensions than schools in the South. For the most recent school year: 17%more for self-efficacy, 9% more for resilience, 7%more for positivity and 10% more for motivation.
Chart showing responses
Change in the proportion of responses in the green zone for each dimension of wellbeing, over time

The research analyses survey responses from schools using the Wellbeing and Attitudes to Learning: Survey and Strategies, an online survey tool provided by RS Assessment from Hodder Education. This is the first analysis of the data collected since September 2020 and provides a valuable opportunity to understand broad differences between groups and look for early indications of trends that may assist with providing targeted support to children.

Katie Blainey, Director, Assessment Product at RS Assessment said: “We must keep an eye on the positivity, motivation and resilience dimensions to ensure downward trends don’t further decline to below satisfactory levels. At the moment, self-efficacy is the only dimension of wellbeing which presents itself as a real area of concern for Key Stage 2 pupils, and understanding this provides more evidence for where to prioritise support for pupil wellbeing in schools, and helps with understanding where investment may be required to enable all children to achieve their best in school. Moreover, measures such as regular check-ins with pupils, group and individual sessions when needed, and making wellbeing part of the school curriculum can help to strengthen overall pupil wellbeing and bridge gaps where pupils need it.”

Professor Clare Wood from Nottingham Trent University's School of Social Sciences said: “Paying close attention to the wellbeing and motivation of pupils in Key Stage 2 is critical to helping their recovery from the impact of school disruptions in 2020 and 2021. This is particularly true for Year 3 pupils, whose introduction to formalised education was interrupted, impacting their ability to self-regulate and manage the academic and emotional challenges of school. We need to consider a more thoughtful approach to education as a result, one that is more conscious of this impact and focused on both their academic and psychological recovery.”

A focused wellbeing webinar is set to take place on Monday 5 December at 3:30pm. A panel of key researchers and a user school of the survey will discuss key findings of the report, the importance of paying attention to pupil wellbeing in schools, and ways in which we can help strengthen key areas for pupils, such as resilience and self-efficacy. The virtual event will be free to attend and hosted by RS Assessment from Hodder Education. Attendees can register to join the session here.

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Helen Breese, Public Relations Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8751, or via email.


    Emma Duke


    Wellbeing and Attitudes to Learning: Survey and Strategies is an award-winning online survey tool provided by RS Assessment from Hodder Education for assessing pupil wellbeing and provides follow-up support with evidence-based strategies. It has been developed by Coventry University and Nottingham Trent University.

    The Nuffield Foundation is an independent charitable trust with a mission to advance social well-being. It funds research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare, and Justice. It also funds student programmes that provide opportunities for young people to develop skills in quantitative and scientific methods. The Nuffield Foundation is the founder and co-funder of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, the Ada Lovelace Institute and the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory. The Foundation has funded this project, but the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the Foundation.

    About RS Assessment from Hodder Education  

    RS Assessment from Hodder Education is a leading provider of assessments for Early Years through to KS3 and beyond. Its standardised termly tests - PiRA, PUMA, GAPS and NTS Assessments – are trusted by over 6,000 schools to accurately measure and predict pupil progress in Reading, Mathematics and GPS.The tests support a whole-school approach from Reception to Year 6 and are complemented by Shine: targeted interventions for the areas of weakness demonstrated in pupils’ diagnostic test results. Alongside their standardised tests and intervention tool, RS Assessment’s full suite of SEN and wellbeing resources are designed to help identify specific learning and behavioural needs which may be prohibiting a pupil’s ability to learn. RS Assessment is also the provider of the free online testing and reporting platform MARK (My Assessment and Reporting Kit), designed to help teachers analyse gaps in learning and generate in-depth reports that show pupil attainment and progress. Visit

    About Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens.

    The Research Excellence Framework (2021) classed 83% of NTU’s research activity as either world-leading or internationally excellent. 86% of NTU’s research impact was assessed to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.

    NTU was awarded The Times and The Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2023 and ranked second best university in the UK in the Uni Compare Top 100 rankings (2021/2022). It was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards), University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).

    NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with nearly 39,000 students and more than 4,400 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 7,000 and an NTU community representing over 160 countries.

    Since 2000, NTU has invested £570 million in tools, technology, buildings and facilities.

    NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2021 UCAS UG acceptance data). It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was the first UK university to sign the Social Mobility Pledge.

    NTU is ranked 4th most sustainable university in the world and 1st in the UK for sustainability-themed Education and Research in the 2021 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).

    About Hachette UK

    The mission at Hachette UK is to make it easy for everyone, everywhere, to unlock new worlds of ideas, learning, entertainment and opportunity.

    Hodder Education is part of Hachette, one of the UK’s largest publishing groups, with 10 autonomous publishing divisions and over 50 imprints with a rich and diverse history. They are also the market leader in e-books and publish a range of bestsellers in audio format, the fastest-growing part of our business.

    Hachette UK publishes thousands of new books across the group every year, and our authors include Martina Cole, Michael Connelly, John Grisham, Stephen King, Stieg Larsson, Nelson Mandela, Stephenie Meyer, Ian Rankin, J.K. Rowling and Malala Yousafzai.

    Hachette UK’s award-winning adult publishing divisions are Little, Brown, Orion, John Murray Press, Hodder & Stoughton, Headline, Quercus, Bookouture and Octopus. Hachette Children’s Group publishes a diverse range of books for children of all ages, and Hodder Education is a market leader in resources for both primary and secondary schools.

    Hachette has offices around the UK, including our headquarters in London and the Hely Hutchinson Centre (HHC) for distribution in Didcot, and has subsidiaries in several other regions, including Australia, India, Ireland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Jamaica and New Zealand.

    About SchoolDash

    SchoolDash is an education data analytics company providing dashboards, maps, analysis and other statistics about schools in England. Founded by Dr Timo Hannay, the data provides insights for parents, school governors, teachers, pupils, policy-makers, journalists and anyone interested in the achievements and activities of the nation’s schools. Visit

Published on 22 November 2022
  • Category: Press office; Research; School of Social Sciences