Last reviewed 13 November 2020

Children hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic are regressing in basic skills and learning, according to a new report by Ofsted.

Ofsted’s second report into the impact of the pandemic finds that some children, of all ages and backgrounds, have lost some basic skills and learning as a result of school and nursery closures and restrictions on movement.

Ofsted carried out more than 900 visits to education and social care providers during September and October to hear how providers are coping with the challenging start to the new academic year. Inspectors found children’s experiences weren’t necessarily determined by privilege or deprivation but those who are coping well have good support structures around them and have benefited from quality time spent with families and carers.

However, among children who were greatly impacted by nursery and school closures, basic skills and learning have regressed. In the early years, some young children whose parents were unable to work more flexibly, and who experienced less time with parents and other children, have lapsed back into nappies, while others have forgotten how to eat with a knife and fork, or lost their early progress in numbers and words.

Ofsted found older children have lost stamina in their reading and writing, some have lost physical fitness and others show signs of mental distress.

Across all age groups, children with SEND have been seriously affected in both their care and education, as the services that families relied on, particularly speech and language services, were unavailable.

Concerns also remain about children who were out of sight during school closures and referrals to social care teams have still not returned to normal levels raising fears that neglect, exploitation or abuse is going undetected.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, said:

“We have now entered a second national lockdown. This time, at least, schools, colleges and nurseries are to remain open. That is very good news indeed. The impact of school closures in the summer will be felt for some time to come – and not just in terms of education, but in all the ways they impact on the lives of young people.”

“As it was in the first lockdown, the work of teachers, social workers and carers, with the support of parents, will again be critical to the future success and happiness of our children.”

The full report on Ofsted’s findings for the early years is available here.