'Need help blowing their nose' Children struggling with the basics after lengthy lockdowns


While it became known early in the pandemic Covid poses only a very minimal risk to children, evidence of the damage caused by the Government’s response of locking down society is growing on an almost daily basis, according to an investigation. A new report by Ofsted on the impact of lockdown on children and attempts by schools to recover from this suggests children came back after months and months in isolation more anxious about socialising, more attached to technology and behind on the most basic educational and life qualities.

The report found children are struggling more than ever to carry out the most basic tasks.

It said: “More children needed help putting on their coat and blowing their nose…

“An increasing number of providers were concerned that fewer children have learned to use the toilet independently.”

Ofsted suggested because of these deficiencies, more children may not be ready for school by the age of four.

It raised further concerns over obesity and dental health.

A teacher trainer working in a north London primary school told Express.co.uk they had noticed similar traits among their pupils.

They said: “In Year Five [ages nine to 10] so many children don’t know how to tie their laces.

“It’s always worth remembering their last full year of school was Year Two [when they were aged six to seven]. Everything is impacted.”

Citing another example of a basic, important skill lacked by many of her pupils, the teacher trainer added: “They don’t know how to tell the time as it’s always taught towards the end of terms two, so the last time they were taught it in person [at school] was Year Two.”

READ MORE: Children speaking in different accents after lockdown TV time

They added home teaching, which often took place over Zoom, were not sufficient for teaching such skills because “the only way you can learn time is by physically practising making times on a clock in front of you”.

In a damning indictment of how far many children, taken away from this learning environment, have fallen, the teachers said “it was like teaching them a foreign language this late on”.

Few of the findings in Ofsted’s report represent new trends. Much of what is outlined has been happening for some time – though, perhaps, has not been as widely covered – but appears to have been greatly exacerbated by numerous, long-lasting lockdowns.

Some schools have, for example, found it necessary to employ “professional nappy changers” and toothbrushing “overseers” for some years because of the inability of their pupils to perform the most basic tasks which historically would have been mastered at home.

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A Welsh dental health expert more than five years ago claimed parents “don’t realise” they should brush their baby’s teeth, for example.

Another warned soon after some parents are putting fizzy drinks and sugary milkshakes in babies’ bottles, leading to tooth rot.

The Government revealed in 2018 almost one quarter of five year olds have tooth decay, a figure which is likely to have risen since.

The latest Ofsted reports builds on these concerns, noting education providers highlighted increasing problems with obesity and dental health.

It added “they have focussed on providing well-balanced and nutritious meals and increasing time for physical activity to tackle these problems”, but many teachers have stressed the problem begins at home and that schools are not being given enough support to take up the mantle.

Some have also highlighted the need for schools to teach such basic acts of independence takes time away from other important matters which will require more catch-up sessions later down the line.

Responding to reports on the impact of lockdown on children, a Department for Education spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “Our ambitious recovery plan continues to roll out across the country, with nearly £5billion invested in high quality tutoring, world class training for teachers and early years practitioners, additional funding for schools, and extending time in colleges by 40 hours a year.

“We have simplified the National Tutoring Programme to reach as many pupils as possible, with funding going directly to schools from next year. The Nuffield Early Language Intervention Programme is also being used by the majority of schools to improve language skills of reception age children.”



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