Concerns over impact of lockdown on mental health of schoolchildren
PUBLISHED: 16:55 06 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:58 06 July 2020
Norfolk County Council
Concerns have been raised over the impact which coronavirus lockdown is having on the mental health and education of Norfolk’s children.
While schools have stayed open for the children of key workers, some 120,000 Norfolk youngsters have not been in the classroom since the government introduced restrictions in March.
The majority will not be back until September and, at a meeting of Norfolk County Council’s cabinet, questions were asked about what work the council is doing to investigate the impact on children’s mental health and education.
Danny Douglas, Labour county councillor for Mancroft ward, asked what studies John Fisher, the Conservative cabinet member for children’s services, had commissioned to look into the issues.
Mr Fisher said: “We cannot know at a local level, yet, the impact on children’s mental health, or on education attainment and the consequent impact on children’s futures.
“Research nationally is emerging, and officers are taking full account of this in their planning. This research requires resource and expertise to begin to evaluate this complex picture.
“However because we cannot quantify it locally, does not mean we are not focused on supporting education providers and families in addressing it.”
He said children’s services staff were working with health colleagues, the voluntary sector and schools to consider what support can be offered.
The council last week started a survey around home learning, but Dr Chris Jones, Labour councillor for Thorpe Hamlet, said: “Given it was the only means for most young learners to get any education for the past three months, why was this not started earlier so results could inform a recovery plan?”
Mr Fisher said the duty to monitor was with schools and their governing bodies.
He said: “The survey of schools last week, by the local authority is because we are interested in the range of approaches schools have taken. It is not a monitoring activity.
“We are asking only so that we can share some of the practice that schools have found most effective more widely.
“Until schools see children face to face they will not be able to assess the impact or otherwise of any remote learning that has taken place with children and only then can they make a bespoke plan for each child to provide relevant curriculum support.
“At this present time there is no meaningful information we could collect for over 120,000 children who have predominantly been engaged in some remote learning over the last few weeks.”
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