The global health crisis caused by Covid-19 brought unprecedented challenges to early years education. Nation-wide lockdowns, social distancing and a suite of restrictions, including the closure of schools and early years settings, playgrounds and public parks, as well as reduced access to extended family and friends, transformed children’s lives. In Northern Ireland, as children began to return to classroom or Nursery settings after an extended period of school closure, teachers were presented with the unenviable task of managing the risks posed by the global pandemic while still ensuring a high-quality playful learning experience for children in practice.
PlayBoard NI, Stranmillis University College, and the Controlled Schools’ Support Council undertook a collaborative project to examine the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the quality of play in early years classrooms with a particular focus on the contexts of Nursery and Foundation Stage.
Research was undertaken between January and March 2021 with an online survey targeted specifically for completion by Nursery and Foundation Stage (Years 1 and 2 of primary schooling) teachers.