Lockdown did not just put children’s lives on hold but meant they went ‘backwards’, Ofsted chief says

Lockdown did not just put children’s lives on hold but meant they have actually "gone backwards", the chief inspector of schools has said.

Youngsters not only missed out on their education while schools and nurseries were closed during the first national shut down but their physical and mental health also suffered, according to the head of Ofsted.

Speaking at the School and Academies Show, Amanda Spielman warned that the lockdown had done “a lot worse” to many children than simply putting their lives on pause.  

"What is coming out of our work and we have reported on in briefings last week is how many children have actually gone backwards without the steady reinforcement that all those structures and systems around children provide,” she said.

“Where we might have thought that lockdown in a way was putting children’s lives on hold we can now see that it has done a lot worse than that for many children.”  

Research published by Ofsted earlier this month found that  lockdown saw a regression among toddler including children forgetting  how to eat with a knife and fork ass.

The national shutdown “significantly impacted” on children’s development, according to a major report by the schools watchdog on the impact of school and nursery closures.

When children returned to nursery in September some had become less independent, for example by reverting to using dummies again or by wearing nappies even though they previously had been toilet trained, Ofsted found.

The watchdog’s research was based on inspectors’ observations from over 900 visits to schools, nurseries and social care providers during September and October, as well as  interviews with teachers and survey responses.  

Most secondary schools had been closed completely since mid-March, while some nurseries and primaries had begun to slowly open from June onwards.

Ms Spielman told the virtual conference: “The big picture for me here is coming out of our work and some of the other studies and reports we are seeing elsewhere is quite how much children lose when they don’t have school.  

“Obviously first and foremost it is around the education they are missing but so much also around personal developments and the physical fitness which of course flows through into mental health but physical health matters as well.”

She also said that it is “hard to know” exactly how many children have not returned to school at all following the prolonged period of closures.

ore parents have been keeping their children at home because they are worried about coronavirus, but they are not necessarily well-equipped for the “arduous task” of home-education.

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