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Primary Aged Kids '3 Years Behind' Socially

The large scale of Covid absences has left some primary aged childres two or three years delayed in social development according to a headteacher.

Teachers have told the Education Committee that children have been struggling to 'maintain a rhythm with their education' since the Covid-19 pandemic begun, with headteachers concerned that social development has become signifigantly delayed.

Jill Thompson, who is the headteacher of Kelvin Grove Primary School in Gateshead, told the Committee that the youngest pupils who attend her school have experienced unprecedented amounts of isolation due to the pandemic, leading to social delays. She said;

"Often we're seeing children responding emotionally, two years younger than they should. So in our reception and our nurseries we're seeing this, particularly if we do not get social development and child development right."

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The government has set up a flagship tutoring scheme, but teachers are sceptical.

Jill's statmement coincides with other teachers speaking out to point out that catch-up tutors are proving to be inconsistent with helping kids catch up with lost education. Under this scheme to help pupils catch up, headteachers have said that tutors were not always trained well enough or experienced enough to establish relationships with vulnerable children, or support the youngest pupils with their literacy.

The Commons' Education select committee heard from Ruth Holden, executive headteacher of Mulberry Academy Shoreditch in east London, who stated that;

“We found the National Tutoring Programme variable, really variable, and quite inconsistent. Some of those people were very good in terms of their specialism but they weren’t necessarily very good with children, particularly children who need a particular style of engagement, because they aren’t very able, or had connectivity issues or a whole host of things to do with deprivation.”

A Department for Education spokesperson shared with the media:

“We are determined to support children from all backgrounds to catch up on lost learning and reach their potential. High quality tuition is key to the delivery of the National Tutoring Programme and there are a range of measures in place including ensuring tutors have appropriate qualifications and experience, along with training in safeguarding, to ensure all Tutoring Partners involved in the programme meet those standards.”

Parents in our online community mirrored these social delay concerns...

Our poll showed that 70% of voters either have some concerns, or major concerns, about their child's social development in the wake of the pandemic. Parents of childen with EHCP's or on the list of vulnerable children who were granted access to school during closures reported fewer concerns to us, but still missed out on interaction due to needing to self isolate when there have been outbreaks in their bubbles/class groups at school.

If you have any worries, please don't hesitate to have a chat with your Health Visitor, or your child's school. They'll be able to look into how your child can best be supported in catching up, with possible additional 'nurture sessions' and other provision available to help your little one.

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