Isolation measures, instated as part of the response to the CCP virus, are harming children, according to new reports published by the UK governmental watchdog Ofsted.
The set of reports, published on Tuesday, found that repeated periods of self-isolation have impacted children and their education, particularly the most vulnerable.
Most children returned to school in September following the national lockdown that saw schooling move to online home learning.
Now teachers have had time to assess pupils, they “believe the learning lost over the first national lockdown was extensive,” according to the report on schools. Many children are reportedly at least 6 months behind where they should be.
“Some leaders also expressed concern that learning is still being lost when pupils have to self-isolate, particularly when this happens repeatedly,” the report adds.
The Ofsted inspectors found that where isolation was required because of positive CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus cases in staff or pupils, schools were in many cases able to provide adequate education for students isolating together in “bubbles,” but individual children isolating were more likely to fall behind their classmates still in school because of different work set.
For the children in social care, isolation had a more detrimental effect.
“Children arriving at the [secure children’s] homes were put into isolation for 14 days. In effect, this created a form of solitary confinement—and we learned that this removal from contact had resulted in greater anxiety, an increase in self-harm and, in some cases, physical attacks on staff,” Her Majesty’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman said in a commentary accompanying the reports.
In the last several months, Ofsted inspectors have carried out almost 2,000 visits to education and social care providers. The reports, which are the third and final reports in the series, reflect on the experiences of those working in schools, further education, and wider social care bodies.
Spielman praised the hard work and resilience of teachers and social care staff in what has been difficult and trying circumstances.
“Faced with all of these pressures, the education and social care sectors are showing considerable resilience and creativity to provide children and learners with the best experience they can. … And all of this is being done against the most challenging backdrop for staff in recent times,” Spielman said.
“While there is real optimism that the end is finally in sight for the sort of restrictions that we currently live under, it’s clear that there is a long way to go before the form of education and social care returns to normal.”
The reports come as the Department for Education on Wednesday announced that a third of primary schools (6,500) had signed up to an Early Years catch-up programme targeting language skills, which is part of a scheme funded by the government to help schools cope with the time missed due to the pandemic.
“No child should fall behind as a result of lost learning time, especially in the crucial early years of their education,” children’s and families minister Vicky Ford said in a statement.
“We want every child to thrive as they progress through school, which is why it’s vital we provide extra support in this challenging time to equip them with the important early language skills to express themselves clearly and effectively.”