Children across Britain have lost basic skills and regressed in learning because of school closures resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released on Tuesday by the government’s school inspection body.
While many schools in England reopened in September — and remain open through England’s lockdown this month — the impact of a national lockdown that began in March before being lifted in the summer is now being felt deeply by many students, according to research from Ofsted, the inspection body.
Younger children have lost early progress in numbers and words, some who were potty-trained have gone back into diapers, and others have even forgotten how to eat with a knife and fork, school inspectors say. For some children, prolonged isolation means they are having to relearn how to maintain friendships.
Older children are struggling with their reading and writing, the research found, and their physical fitness is lacking. There has also been a notable increase in eating disorders and self-harm.
Children who coped well with the restrictions were those who had “good support structures around them,” the chief schools inspector, Amanda Spielman, said in a statement. The children hardest hit by the slip in learning were those whose parents couldn’t work flexibly, for whom lockdown meant spending less time with their parents and less time with other children, Ms. Spielman said.
The report came as the education minister for Wales announced that older students would not take exams next year to “ensure fairness” as they will have spent different amounts of time in schools during the pandemic. Grades will instead be given based on assessments from teachers.
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