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OU funds research to hear children’s experiences of COVID-19

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An Open University (OU) COVID-19 Rapid Response funding scheme is supporting the data analysis of survey to find out what has been of importance to children during COVID-19.

The OU fund has awarded just under £7,500 towards this project, which is a collaboration between the OU’s Children’s Research Centre (CRC) and Children Heard. Over the past three months, over 500 children aged 3-18 years old have responded to a 16-question survey offered in four languages (Icelandic, Slovenian, Norwegian and English).

The outcomes of the project, Coronavirus and My Life: What children say, will ensure that children and young people will no longer be silent voices in the debate as society moves forward in the wake of the pandemic.

Engaging child-led responses to COVID-19

The Children Heard project provides an essential infrastructure enabling children to participate and appreciate their own and their peers’ shared experiences. The platform, designed by two psychologists, Dr May Lene Karlsen and Dr Gail Sinitsky, offers a space for children (aged 3-18) to submit artwork entitled Coronavirus and my life; and, in addition, invites them to respond to a 16-question survey, gathering their views about what’s important to them at this time.

Dr Liz Chamberlain, Senior Lecturer in Education Studies (Primary) and Co-Director of the CRC said:

“Children’s lives, identities, relationships are all impacted by the pandemic and yet there is such little opportunity for their voices to be part of the collective response. Therefore, engaging children in dialogue about COVID-19 using child-led responses is crucial for school and local authority systems by offering appropriate support and providing opportunities for children and young people to contribute to debates and advocate that they are part of the societal response to the pandemic.”

Children Heard said:

"By shifting children to the centre of the debate, advocating they are part of societal response to COVID-19, schools, education, and health services will have a better understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on children and will therefore be better able to shape their response to meet the needs of children.”

Next steps

The findings from this first report will be launched at the Children’s Research Centre seminar: How do we empower young people in education post lockdown? on 27 October 2020 with a plan to launch a second child-focused report on International Children’s Day on 20 November 2020.

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