A damaging Ofsted report warned that almost every child in England has fallen behind in their education and suffered as a consequence of the COVID lockdown.
Chief inspector Amanda Spielman warned that many of the youngest children’s growth and development wavered amid the pandemic, with some regressing in basic communication and social skills.
She said that loneliness, boredom and anxiety became endemic amongst the young, and the lack of education, interrupted routine, and fewer activities led to physical and mental health problems for numerous children.
Ms Spielman urged that the younger generation should not be denied the opportunity to enjoy childhood and achieve its potential in the year ahead, and she called on schools to offer students sport and extracurricular activities to ensure children regain a feeling of normality in their lives.
Her comments came after the latest Department of Education (DfE) figures revealed that the number of children and staff off school for COVID related reasons in England had surged in recent weeks.
Education unions have warned that disruption to education was expected to worsen following the emergence of the recently identified Omicron coronavirus variant.
In Ofsted’s annual report, Ms Spielman said the message around the harm that lockdowns cause children, and the importance of in-person schooling needs repeating now, and she added that although many children aren’t necessarily out of school because of COVID or other ailments, it’s essential that they attend every day that they possibly can.
The watchdog’s report assesses education and children’s social care over the 2020-21 academic year.
During this period much of Ofsted’s routine inspection work was suspended, but the inspectorate began monitoring visits to see how schools, colleges, nurseries and social care providers responded to the pandemic.
Ofsted discovered that despite the greatest efforts of many thousands of parents, teachers, social workers and carers, the challenges of the pandemic were so great that almost all children fell behind in their learning.
The report said that in primary and secondary schools, children struggled with a hokey-cokey education, in the classroom, at home, isolated in bubbles, separated alone.
Further education (FE) students and apprentices saw their classroom doors closed, their placements curtailed and their career prospects limited, and prisoners seeking a second opportunity through education were unable to leave their cells to learn.
The report said that children with special education needs or disabilities (SEND) were unable to access the local support services they rely on, while many vulnerable children disappeared from teachers’ line of sight.
Our children and their futures are the real victims of this COVID, and our children are regressing in basic language skills. This lockdown did far more harm to them than it benefitted them, and most youngsters are now dreading the thought of another lockdown.
Most children are now socially stunted and educationally backward from where they should be because you can’t just close schools for years with no consequence.
Our children’s education is in crisis. Child care is in crisis, but apparently, we can still afford to bring in thousands of boat people that they clothe, feed and house, and if our government can provide all of the above, then why are our children suffering?
Of course, you wouldn’t think that a child’s language abilities would regress at home but it has, and there are a number of children that returned to school with stammers and stutters, partly due to not socialising with children of their own age for such a long time, and partly due to the anxiety and worry of living through this pandemic and having their lives turned upside down.