The coronavirus pandemic has had a deep and harrowing impact on family life, children’s education and potentially their life chances, according to parent voice charity Parentkind. The charity is asking the official UK Covid-19 Inquiry to widen its scope to examine a worsening mental health crisis among young people and significant parental concern about their children’s lost learning.
Parentkind’s call to action echoes that of Education Select Committee chair Robert Halfon MP, who co-signed a letter to the Times calling on the Inquiry to take a broader view. It also draws on findings from Ofsted’s recently-published spring 2022 education recovery report which acknowledges the profound damage long periods out of the classroom have had on children’s learning and wellbeing.
Parentkind’s coronavirus parent surveys tracked parental opinion throughout the pandemic from the moment schools were closed to most children, right up to their universal re-opening.
A poll taken in February 2021 found that the top three challenges for parents were:
- motivating their child to do their schoolwork (36%)
- managing their child’s mental health and wellbeing (32%)
- and, juggling work and schooling (30%).
As many as 44% of the same respondents reported a negative impact to their own mental health caused by the remote learning arrangements.
Parentkind CEO John Jolly said: “Parents becoming more deeply involved in their child’s education was a natural and obvious response to partial school closures and remote learning. While many parents now say that they want to stay more involved in their child’s education, they may need more support from government and schools to help them fulfil that role.
“Consultation with parents to find out how they are managing is essential. Issues such as the digital divide, where more disadvantaged families don’t have the same level of access to digital devices, have deepened the disadvantage gap.
“By announcing the ‘Parent Pledge’, the government has signalled that it understands the vital role parental participation will have to play in education recovery, but parents’ influence can only be maximised by truly understanding their pandemic experience.
“Government also needs to understand the resources and support parents need to help their children learn at home, and their ideas for the future of education and assessment.
“Parentkind would like this Inquiry to widen its area of interest to a holistic view of the effect of the pandemic on education and family life, and to consult with parents. Their voices must be heard on education recovery and how we manage any future national crisis that threatens to keep children from their classrooms.”