ADCS response: Ofsted’s annual report 2020/21

Steve Crocker, ADCS Vice President, said:

“Ofsted’s report describes the varied impact the pandemic has had on children’s lives, but also the incredible lengths staff right across the education and social care sectors have gone to to continue supporting children and young people in incredibly difficult circumstances. Examples in the report include staff going above and beyond in children’s homes moving in with children who had to self-isolate, early years staff adapting to support very young children to recover curiosity and rebuild confidence through play and there will be many other examples up and down the country. It’s important all of the extraordinary work which has taken place, right across the children’s sector, in response to the challenges we’ve faced is acknowledged.

“The pandemic continues to impact on us all. While children’s experiences have varied, Covid-19 has disrupted education at all levels, it has increased risks in the home, impacted on children’s emotional, mental and physical health and on their wellbeing. Schools face ongoing disruption with the youngest age groups continuing to experience the highest rates of infection. For some children and families the pandemic has heightened pre-existing challenges from poverty and poor quality housing to access to safe places to play and food. This report clearly reinforces the urgent need for a comprehensive, cross cutting plan for childhood that extends beyond education catch up, taking a holistic vision of children, to ensure every child can thrive not just survive. The plan must consider the differential experiences across the country; some children have lost weeks of face to face teaching due to isolation periods, on top of national and local lockdowns. As the report states, some children with special educational needs and in the secure estate have had particularly poor experiences during this period which cannot be right, local authorities are facing systemic challenges in the delivery of our statutory duties which we hope are addressed by the national reviews into children’s social care and special educational needs.

“We share HMCI’s concerns about how time away from school and learning has impacted children’s educational progress, and also their mental health and emotional wellbeing. The government has invested in tutoring to help children ‘catch up’ on lost learning but this has been via one-off investments rather than as part of a multi-year, multi-level plan. Education recovery must focus on improving children’s broader outcomes, as well as academic. Similarly, the spending review provided some welcome additional funds for children and families however, we need a sustainable long term funding settlement for children’s services which enables us to keep children safe from the immediate risk of harm and to support children and families earlier before they reach crisis point. This is the only way we can ‘build back better’ and enable children to be in a position to learn and play their fullest part in our society.”

ENDS



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