Insights from learners in lockdown report

How learners experienced learning at home during our 2020 national lockdown


Dr Wendy Moore and Dr Irene Andersen


In March 2020, the New Zealand Government made the unprecedented decision to lockdown the country in response to the growing threat of the COVID-19 virus, prompting a seven-week closure of all education facilities. This required learners to very quickly adapt to learning from home, learning at a distance, and in a very different environment to their school, early childhood education centre or kura.

Our team of education consultants and leadership advisors were already assisting with educators’ and school leaders’ immediate needs as we shifted to a distance learning model, and soon we had gathered information about what parents were experiencing as well. Student voice is an important part of our work, so, inspired by a casual conversation in a virtual morning tea, we felt it was important to record this quickly during this unique moment in history.


This small-scale, qualitative study captured a ‘bubble in time’ of 31 learners who sent video or written submissions after a call went out to our team for volunteers among their friends and families. They shared the enjoyable and challenging parts of learning at home, the messages they wanted educators to understand, and what, if anything, they wanted to see brought from the home learning experience, into the schooling experience following this unprecedented time. Learners ranged from early childhood (2 years old) through to Year 13 (17 years old), from six regions across New Zealand.


The significant themes which emerged included the learner’s desire and ability to self-regulate their learning, the importance of high-quality interactions with teachers, along with insights into the social effects of distance learning (both positives and negatives), the experience of online learning and the impact of distractions.

This report is important for all educators as it offers a window into learning during lockdown through learners’ eyes, using their voices. It provides awareness, from the learner’s perspective, of what educational changes could be beneficial moving forward. The challenge now is whether teachers, leaders and policy makers will take note and include these voices as a ‘new normal’ is created.

“E korero ana mātou. E whakarongo ana koutou?   We’re speaking. Are you listening?”   (Suemcl, May 2020)

Insights from learners in lockdown report