Research

Children and young people’s writing during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020

Added 24 Jun 2020

This report outlines findings from our tenth Annual Literacy Survey relating to children and young people’s writing in 2020, in addition to findings from our survey of children and young people’s writing during the COVID-19 lockdown.

58,346 children and young people aged 9 to 18 in the UK took part in our Annual Literacy Survey between January and March 2020, while 4,141 children and young people aged 8 to 18 in the UK took part in our survey during lockdown between May and early June 2020.

Key findings

Writing enjoyment

  • 2 in 5 (39.8%) children and young people said at the beginning of 2020 that they enjoy writing; this is an increase on the number of children and young people from the year before (35.8%)
  • 1 in 6 (17.5%) children and young people said they enjoyed writing more during lockdown than they had before

Writing frequency

  • After recording the lowest daily writing rate in 2019 since we started asking the question in 2010, the percentage of children and young people who say that they write outside class on a daily basis has recovered over the past year, increasing from 16.5% in 2019 to 21.5% in 2020
  • Additionally, 1 in 5 (21.4%) children said that they had been writing more in their free time during lockdown compared with before

Creative writing during lockdown

  • More children and young people are expressing themselves through creative writing during lockdown:
    • 2 in 5 have written more short stories or fiction (39.7%) and letters (39.3%)
    • 1 in 4 (27.1%) have written more in a diary or journal
    • 1 in 5 (20.8%) have written more poetry
  • Lockdown has given many children the inspiration and conditions to write more creatively. Children and young people told us that lockdown has:
    • Given them more time and space to think and generate ideas
    • Inspired their writing
    • Made more digital writing formats available to them

Writing and wellbeing during lockdown

  • 2 in 5 (41.3%) children said writing makes them feel better
  • 1 in 4 (24.8%) children said writing helps when they feel sad that they can’t see friends and family
  • The link between writing and mental wellbeing was further strengthened when children engaged in creative forms of writing
  • Children who said that writing makes them feel better were:
    • 5 times more likely to write poems (66.5% vs. 13.4%) during lockdown than their peers
    • 4 times more likely to write in a diary or journal (61.9% vs. 14.8%) or to write a short story or fiction (61.1% vs. 15.1%) during lockdown than their peers