Children continue to struggle with basic skills such as writing and speaking in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, new research from the UK government’s education authority has found.
These were among the findings of a series of reports published by Ofsted on Monday, which were based on evidence from around 280 inspections of education establishments of different age groups, as well as groups of discussion with ministry inspectors.
In the ‘early years’ group, Ofsted found that education providers noted delays in speech and language development in young children. Some providers have also found that babies have struggled to respond to basic facial expressions, which they believe may be due to reduced social interaction amid the coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdowns.
Additionally, some education providers pointed out that children lacked confidence in group activities, while toddlers and preschoolers needed help learning to share and take turns. role.
Providers have also noticed how the pandemic has affected the physical development of young children, such as a delay in babies learning to crawl and walk. Some reported that children had regressed in their autonomy and self-care skills, prompting providers to spend more time with children doing physical activities, to help them develop gross motor skills.
Meanwhile, school-aged children showed gaps in math, phonics and “writing endurance”, although educators said that compared to the previous semester, knowledge gaps were closing.
As has been the case in many countries around the world, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced UK schools to close the vast majority of children, meaning many have been homeschooled during the country’s lockdowns.
The mental health of schoolchildren also remained a concern, with educators noticing lower levels of resilience and confidence, as well as increased anxiety among students.
In fact, the part of the report that focused on this particular age group stated that some schools had noticed that the pandemic had affected the subjects students choose to study before secondary and pre-university exams, known respectively. under the name of GSCE and A Levels.
For example, a few schools noticed that fewer students were choosing to study all major sciences – biology, chemistry and physics. And one educator believed fewer students were choosing to study another language because they suffered from a drop in confidence following the lockdowns.
Schools have also noticed how the pandemic has affected students’ tech skills. “For example, one school noted that students were only comfortable using touchscreen devices, so they addressed this issue by focusing on using desktop computers,” the report said. .
Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman said while progress had been made in efforts to help children catch up on what they had been missing, it was “clear that the pandemic has created persistent challenges “.
“I am particularly worried about the development of young children, which if not taken into account could potentially cause problems for primary schools,” she said.
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