Category Archives: Research Study

Parents report a significant drop in their mental and emotional wellbeing due to Covid19

Parenting NI are aware of a surge in need regarding mental health and wellbeing services for parents and their children, yet there was a conspicuous lack of necessary data to understand what is needed to better support parents in the region. Their recent focussed study aims to fill in these gaps in knowledge and learn from parents what they need most regarding this issue. The report from the charity encompasses views from 262 parents from across the region, gathered in a mix of interviews and online survey responses during a month-long investigative period. The report sheds a light on the heavy impact of covid on families in NI. A total of 88% of parents reported that the pandemic had affected their wellbeing. Parents also felt that the pandemic was taking a heavy toll on their children’s emotional health and wellbeing too, with 47% stating it has affected them ‘a lot’, and 24% suggesting it affected them ‘a little’. 

Interestingly, the report found that a number of parents did experience some positive effects from the pandemic, namely spending more time at home as a family, however most noted that this was relevant to the first lockdown and subsequent lockdowns had been much more challenging.

“The change of pace has been positive for our family. The extra time spent together has boosted all our mental and emotional well-being”

However, notably the experience of families during the pandemic has been largely negative. The interviews highlighted many of the unique challenges children faced:

Parents expressed a desire for more support around emotional health and wellbeing, both for themselves and for their children. When looking at the support available, the majority (53%) of families told us they were not aware of help or support available to them. Many parents felt support was too limited or did not exist and wanted improvements in this area:

“Easily accessible information to support groups and funding from government for these organisations to provide these information and support sessions”

There has been an increased number of issues experienced by parents in regards to mental health provision and intervention services. Some of the parents surveyed wanted there to be more help offered in this area. Numerous parents reported that they had experienced difficulties finding help for themselves and their families. Many families have been unaware that support exists, and due to this have struggled. Communication from statutory services was often experienced by parents as confusing or lacking detail, which led to a lack of awareness of the support available.

Signposting between organisations could be capitalised to fill a need here to better support families. 

Charlene Brooks, Parenting NI CEO warns that support for children and parents need to be made available now “A proactive approach is needed – Parents are struggling with the weight of the challenges that this pandemic has imposed upon them and their families, and they need help now.  There needs to be clear and widespread communication about the support and services that are available with services being adequately resourced to meet demands”.

Read the full report here: 

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Parental Experiences and Attitudes on Post-Primary Academic Selection during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented disruption to the education of children in Northern Ireland. While this has had a dramatic impact on all children, there has been a particular focus on those facing important exams. While sector-wide policies have been enforced for both GCSE and A-level results, this has not been the case for Northern Ireland’s unique third examination period – the post-primary transfer.

One key result of this lack of government mandated policy has been regional variation. While some schools have indicated that they intend to continue with selection without adjustment, several others have decided to either drop or amend selection methods for this year. This decentralised response to the crisis has left parents and children in a uniquely challenging situation, without precedent.

This paper sought to gather a snapshot of parental concerns and views regarding post-primary transfer in the pandemic period. The findings of this demonstrate a wide range of very strongly held views, and a lack of consensus on almost any aspect of post-primary transfer both in the pandemic and more generally. Parents were deeply divided on core issues such as:

• Whether the transfer test should go ahead this year;

• Whether the transfer test should exist at all;

• Whether academic selection by any means should be a component of Northern Ireland’s Education system.

Parents were often unambiguous and direct with their feedback. Those in favour of the transfer described it as “a necessary part of education” and said that altering it at this late stage was “deeply unfair”. However, some parents who opposed the tests described them as “almost a form of torture” and suggested that allowing the normal transfer process to take place in the shadow of COVID represented a “moral failing on behalf of the authorities”.

It is impossible to determine with such a small sample size how widely any of these beliefs are held. However, what is clear is that there are strong feelings regarding post-primary transfer that deserve to be examined in more detail.

To read & download the full report on Parental Experiences and Attitudes on Post-Primary Academic Selection during the COVID-19 Pandemic 2020, please click the button below. Published August 2020.

Read the report

Benefits and Tax Credit Impact on Families Study

We have been contacted by Rosanna a student at Queen’s University who is looking for parents to volunteer to become research participants.

If you are currently living with your partner and receive one or more of the following:

  • Child Tax Credits / Working Tax Credits
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Jobseekers Allowance

You may be eligible to take part in this important project.

The purpose of this research is to understand how cuts and freezes to benefits and tax credits impact on the budgeting and work decision-making of couple families in Northern Ireland who have claimed income and employment related benefits within the past eighteen months.

If you choose to become a participant, Rosanna will contact you by telephone to arrange an interview for a time that suits you. The interview will last approximately 1 hour. It will begin with a brief questionnaire, followed by an informal conversation.

asda As a thank you for taking part you will receive a £10 Asda voucher per couple.

If you could spare an hour to have an informal chat with Rosanna you can call her on 07732515543 or email rmcsorley04@qub.ac.uk