Persistent Covid Absence Leaves Students Behind – Ofsted | Ofsted
The persistent absence from school caused by Covid and mental illness is hampering students’ efforts to catch up with their learning delay, according to an Ofsted report.
The Schools Inspectorate said its visits to 98 primary and secondary schools in England found many “are still working to get back to pre-pandemic attendance.” He said most of the absences were related to Covid, including cases of infections and mental health issues, and what he called “Covid-19 anxiety” among parents and students .
Many principals said mental health issues continued to cause difficulties for some of their students, with some reporting an increase in the number of students suffering from anxiety and self-harm.
Inspectors learned that other Covid-related absences were the result of ‘low resistance to setbacks or disease’, as well as families taking rescheduled or reorganized vacations during school time. Absences linked to Covid are said to be higher among disadvantaged students and students with special educational needs or disabilities, as well as among older students.
The report found that literacy and math gaps were common, although their magnitude varied. “The amount of students who learned and their degree of security in that knowledge depended on their schooling during periods of confinement, their engagement in distance learning and their autonomy to work at home,” the report said.
Ofsted also found that teacher absences linked to Covid had a profound effect on the functioning of schools, with improvement plans and staff training being slowed down or postponed. School leaders said they had to operate with “multiple staff” on leave at the same time.
Amanda Spielman, Chief Inspector of Ofsted, said: “The pandemic is still with us and the education of children is still disrupted. But it is clear that many school leaders and staff have responded to these challenges tenaciously and have been creative in the way they have supported the education and personal development of children and learners.
“The children have already missed so much. And some students are constantly absent from school for various reasons. So, as we face further turmoil, we must do all we can to ensure that children are able to continue learning in their classrooms. “
Students starting in both primary and secondary schools appear to have been the most disturbed, as inspectors learned that children arrived “with lower starting points” than in previous years and took longer to settle. .
During the intake year, children who missed nursery had more difficulty with peer interactions, behavior and attitudes towards learning. “Some teachers said the impact of the pandemic on host students was greater than they expected,” the inspectors noted.
The report had at least two good points. School leaders said some students who had previously withdrawn from their schools in favor of home schooling had changed their minds and returned. And some staff said student behavior improved from before the pandemic. The students were happy to be back in school and to have a positive attitude towards learning, they said.