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The real impact of lockdowns on the education and mental health of children

By anonymous contributor


I work in the education sector, specialising in the analysis of education data. Over the last two years there have been many stories coming out of the schools I work with about the negative impact school closures and lockdowns on children's education and mental health. Children are starting school unable to speak fluently, and lacking in self-care appropriate to their age. Reading ability has declined especially in younger children. Children are starting secondary school well below where they should and schools are struggling to play catch up.

All of this, up until now, is largely anecdotal but there is an increasing body of evidence showing the negative impact of the covid lockdowns on the education of our children. This year saw the return of national assessments in primary schools following their postponement for two years as a result of the pandemic.

In early July, the Department for Education published data on children’s academic ability at the end of primary school (so children aged 10/11). There has been a large drop in the percentage of children reaching aged-related expectations going from 65% in 2019 down to 59% in 2022. This is unprecedented to see a decline not only on this scale but any decline at all, with standards usually improving slightly each year. This means there will be 38,000 additional children to normal entering secondary school in September behind where they should be. Given prior performance is the greatest predictor of later success at GCSE and beyond, these lockdowns have severely impacted the life chances of a huge number of children.

Research from the FFT education datalab has shown that children at the end of Year 2 (so aged 7 and 8) have seen declines in academic ability particularly in writing compared to 2019, before the lockdowns. Using data from over 600 primary schools across the country, they found that the percentage meeting aged-related expectations in writing fell from 70% in 2019 to 59% in 2022. In reading, the percentage of pupils achieving this standard fell from 76% to 68% and in maths from 77% to 70%. Attainment at Key Stage 1 following the pandemic - FFT Education Datalab We take an early look at how attainment at Key Stage 1 has changed between 2019 and 2022 Attendance at school Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Week 26 2022

Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus ... <p>A summary of attendance in education settings for the 2021/22 academic year, excluding out of term dates as d... Even though schools are now open and have been for many months, children have got out of the habit of regularly attending school. On the ground it feels like the lockdowns have altered the perception of the importance of regular attendance at school. The Department for Education collects daily attendance figures from schools. The latest published data shows that in June over 10% of children across the country were not attending school when they should be. This is over 800,000 children. Before the lockdowns, the overall absence rate f was half this. So on average an additional 400,000 children across the country are missing school each day. Schools are trying everything they can to get the children to attend regularly but it is having very little impact.

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