Nursery pupils 'have gone back to wearing nappies in lockdown'

Nursery pupils 'have gone back to wearing nappies in lockdown'

Nursery pupils ‘have gone back to wearing nappies in lockdown’: Closures due to coronavirus have set potty-trained youngsters back, officials say

  • School closures left youngsters needing nappies and dummies, inspectors say 
  • Ofsted added that some primary pupils have forgotten how to use cutlery 
  • Older pupils are struggling to write for long periods and ‘stay awake and alert’ 

School and nursery closures due to Covid-19 have left potty-trained youngsters now needing nappies and dummies, according to inspectors.

Ofsted added that some primary pupils have forgotten how to use cutlery while others have lost ‘stamina’ in reading and writing and fallen behind in maths.

Older pupils are struggling to write for long periods and ‘stay awake and alert’ as they remain ‘disconnected’ from learning and are physically unfit.

Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of schools, said the ‘majority’ of children across the country ‘have slipped back in their learning to varying degrees’.

School and nursery closures due to Covid-19 have left potty-trained youngsters now needing nappies and dummies, according to inspectors (File image) 

Ofsted carried out more than 900 visits in September and October to education and social care providers, finding that children ‘of all ages and backgrounds, have lost some basic skills and learning as a result of school closures’.

But Miss Spielman said the hardest hit were pre-school youngsters whose parents were unable to work more flexibly.

These pre-school youngsters had ‘experienced the double whammy of less time with parents and less time with other children’.

The head of Ofsted said: ‘Leaders reported regression back into nappies among potty-trained children and others who had forgotten some basic skills they had mastered, such as eating with a knife and fork – not to mention the loss of early progress in words and numbers.

‘We were told of older children losing stamina when it came to reading and writing; some who had lost physical fitness; and others showing signs of mental distress, including an increase in eating disorders and self-harm.’ 

Ofsted visited 208 early years settings such as childminders, private nurseries and maintained nursery schools last month.

Inspectors discovered some children had become ‘less independent’, ‘less confident and more anxious’ since the first national lockdown.

They had returned to their setting using dummies and comforters ‘at an older age than providers would usually expect’.

They were also back in nappies despite previously being toilet trained while others had forgotten ‘how to play’.

The Ofsted briefing on early years said some providers are now focusing more on developing independent skills ‘such as dressing, toileting and using a knife and fork, as they felt these skills had suffered’.

Four in five early years providers said children’s maths and literacy skills had ‘either not progressed or had declined’.

Eighty four per cent said youngsters’ personal, social and emotional development had fallen behind or just stayed the same over the last six months.

However, the report also notes that many children who were at home ‘thrived when their parents were able to spend quality time with them’.

Ofsted also visited 266 primary, 87 secondary schools and 27 pupil referral units and special schools.

Four in five early years providers said children’s maths and literacy skills had ‘either not progressed or had declined’ (File image)

In primary schools, some younger pupils are ‘experiencing increased attachment to their parents or home’ as a result of being off lessons for so long.

They have ‘lost elements of independence, for example forgetting how to use a knife and fork’ as well as their reading skills.

Writing is an issue in primaries, including ‘writing at length, spelling, grammar, presentation, punctuation and handwriting’.

Primaries are attempting to build up youngsters’ ‘stamina’ again for writing at length.

They are ‘prioritising reading and mathematics’, which has led to a reduction in depth or suspension of other subjects.

Many children have fallen behind in maths, with ‘oral fluency’ also regressing.

In secondaries, literacy and maths is ‘a concern’, with pupils again ‘finding it difficult to write for long periods of time’.

Across primary and secondary schools, pupils’ ‘concentration or their mental and physical stamina has reduced’.

The Ofsted briefing on schools says: ‘Some leaders said pupils were fatigued, ‘disconnected’ from learning or struggling to stay awake and alert.

‘Even though good behaviour was not just a ‘honeymoon period’ according to some leaders, others have perceived deterioration in pupils’ behaviour and willingness to follow rules compared with when they first returned to school in September.’

Children have gained weight as physical fitness has declined and several schools have reported increases in self-harming cases. More pupils are believed to be suffering from eating disorders.

A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘We know that some children do need additional support to catch up as a result of the pandemic, which is why we launched a £1 billion Covid catch up fund for schools to support those children who need it.

‘Our National Tutoring Programme is now live in schools, providing intensive support to the most disadvantaged children. The evidence shows high quality tutoring can make up as much as three to five months’ lost learning.’

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