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NEWS: Ofsted highlights early evidence of pandemic impact on children's development

A new report from Ofsted today shines a light on the negative consequences the first national lockdown in England had on children’s basic skills and learning. Based on initial findings from 380 interim school visits and over 200 research interviews with early years settings, the report highlights, among many things, that some children have experienced a loss of social and emotional development; are less confident on their return to their setting; some are more anxious. In some cases, settings reported that children had also become less independent, for example returning to their setting using dummies or back in nappies having previously been toilet trained. Of significant concern are reports that many of the children that left settings at the start of the first national lockdown had, by October, still not returned.

Liz Bayram, Chief Executive of PACEY, said: “Ofsted initial findings reinforce how important it is for families to be able to access early education so that their children get the best start. It is vital not only that registered childcare providers - childminders, nurseries and pre-schools - are allowed to remain open to support the children in their care during a lockdown but that they are properly funded and supported by government to do so.

“The sector is struggling to remain sustainable with far less children in attendance than before the pandemic (as this report further evidences). Caring for children safely means increased staffing and other costs, to ensure Covid-19 requirements are in place. Frequent unplanned temporary closes (due to suspected cases of the virus) are made far worse by longer than necessary delays in accessing a test or receiving its result. Every time a setting has to temporarily close, families are let down, providers have to give refunds and the service’s sustainability is further eroded.

“We need this government to recognise the vital role early education and childcare plays, not only in supporting parents to work but in supporting children to thrive. They need to do much more to ensure long-term financial support for the sector so providers can see a way out of present challenges”.

Read Ofsted's full press release here.