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A duty of care and a duty to teach: educational priorities in response to the Covid-19 lockdown

This research explores the challenges the Covid-19 crisis sets primary schools, using surveys and telephone interviews to analyse how teachers weigh a duty of care (for their pupils’ well-being and welfare) and a duty to teach (given their responsibilities for curriculum delivery) in their interactions with families during the lockdown. By tracking teachers’ immediate responses and longer term reflections, the research will explore the extent to which the crisis is challenging and reshaping shared understandings of the purposes and values of primary education. This will be considered in the light of the diverse roles primary schools find themselves playing as supportive community hubs during the crisis. By conducting the research within a short time frame, and comparing teachers’ actions and perceptions with the concerns expressed in public debate on the impacts of Covid-19 on education, alongside the most relevant research studies, the findings will be able to i) inform decisions that will need to be made about how schools resume "business as usual” post lockdown, including any implications for high stakes tests and inspection and ii) set an agenda for public reflection on the social role schools should play in their communities through the ways in which they combine a duty of care with a duty to teach.

Lead investigator:

Gemma Moss


UCL Institute of Education

Primary topic:

Schools, universities & training

Region of data collection:


Country of data collection


Status of data collection


Type of data being collected:

Online survey

Unit of real-time data collection