Children's development regressed during lockdown, Ofsted claims
By Rachel Lawler
Children’s basic skills and learning have regressed in the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report from Ofsted.
The report is based on Ofsted’s findings from 900 visits to education and social care settings and claims that children of all ages have lost some basic skills and learning as a result of closures and restrictions.
In the early years, Ofsted says that some children have “returned less confident and more anxious” after the lockdown.
It also says that in some cases children had lost some independence and had returned to “using dummies” or were “back in nappies having previously been toilet trained”.
Most providers were concerned about the learning and development of children with SEND; those who speak English as an additional language; children living in poverty and those whose parents were not previously engaging.
The report warned that children from disadvantaged backgrounds did not always have access to a to the same variety of toys at home and that those living in flats had not experienced outdoor play during the lockdown.
Providers were most concerned about the impact of the lockdown on children’s personal, social and emotional development out of all the prime areas of learning.
However, the report also noted that children who had continued to attend or were well supported at home had “made good progress in their learning”.
A quarter of providers thought that children’s communication and language had improved in the lockdown. Some providers said that parent who were able to spend more time talking to and reading with their children had had a positive impact.
Most providers also said that some of the changes they had made during the pandemic had been positive such as the staggered starts to the day and leaving parents at the gate. The reduced number of resources also meant that children are “less likely to be overwhelmed”.
Vital impact of early years
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: "At a time when there is so much focus on access to ‘childcare’ element of early years provision, this report is a timely reminder of the vital early education that nurseries, pre-schools and childminders are delivering every day, and the tangible impact that losing access to this education can have on young children.
"We know that many providers who were forced to close during lockdown worked incredibly hard to stay in touch with and support families throughout that period, and continue to show great commitment to supporting children’s wellbeing and development as they settle back into their nursery or childminding environment.
"It is vital, however, that the early years is given adequate support to do this. As such, it is incredibly disappointing that the government has still failed to extend the 'catch-up' funding given to schools to support children who have been negatively impacted as a result of missing education during lockdown to the early years sector.
"Providers have done an incredible job of supporting children in their care throughout this pandemic, but they should not be left to tackle this challenge alone. It’s time the government remembered that early years provision is not just about getting parents back to work - it’s about delivering high-quality learning and development opportunities at the most critical time of a child’s life - and started providing the support that the sector needs to continue doing just that."
Find out more
Read the report in full