Nearly every child in England has fallen behind in their education and suffered as a result of the Covid lockdown, a damning Ofsted report warned today.
Chief inspector Amanda Spielman warned that many of the youngest children’s progress and development ‘faltered’ amid the pandemic, with some regressing in basic language and social skills.
Loneliness, boredom and misery became ‘endemic’ among the young – and the loss of education, disrupted routine – and fewer activities led to physical and mental health problems for many children, she said. The younger generation should not be ‘denied’ its chance to enjoy childhood and fulfil its potential in the year ahead, Ms Spielman has urged.
She called on schools to offer pupils sport and extra-curricular activities to ensure children ‘regain a sense of normality’ in their lives. Her comments come after the latest Department for Education (DfE) figures show that the number of children and staff off school for Covid-related reasons in England has risen in recent weeks.
Education unions have warned that disruption to schooling is likely to worsen following the emergence of the newly-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’.
‘Although many children are necessarily out of school because of Covid or other illness, it is important that they attend every day that they possibly can,’ she added.