Ofsted, COVID-19 series of reports

Ofsted has produced a series of reports on the impact of COVID.

Ofsted: Children hardest hit by COVID-19 pandemic are regressing in basic skills and learning

Ofsted’s headlines from second report on the effects of the COVID-19 across the sectors it inspects and regulates:

• children hardest hit by restrictions have regressed in some basic skills and learning

• young children, previously potty-trained, have lapsed, particularly where parents unable to work flexibly

• Older children lost stamina in reading, writing, physical fitness

• Some signs of mental distress, increase in eating disorders and self-harm

• Concerns about children out of sight during school closures, falling referrals to social care, fears about potential undetected domestic neglect, exploitation or abuse

From Amanda Speilman’s overall commentary:

Across all age groups, children with SEND have been seriously affected in both their care and education, as the services that families relied on – particularly speech and language services – were unavailable.

Ofsted’s series of reports covers:

• schools

• further education and skills

• early years

• social care

• local areas’ SEND provision

Headlines from the local areas’ SEND provision:

Briefing on local areas’ special educational needs and disabilities provision:

Evidence from visits to six local areas between 5 and 14 October 2020

Ofsted briefing answers four broad questions based on evidence from the visits:

1. How have children and young people with SEND experienced the pandemic so far?

2. What has worked well in supporting children and young people with SEND?

3. What have the challenges been and what has not worked so well?

4. What are the plans for supporting these children and young people in the future?

Main findings

Many of the families found the first COVID-19 restrictions challenging:

• coping got harder as time went on

• struggled without established routines, support networks, specialist services

• challenges linked to children’s regression, own mental health difficulties, explaining restrictions to children, risks the virus posed to their child’s health.

Nevertheless, some children and young people had positive experiences:

• at least in some respects

• Those in education benefited, flourished with smaller class sizes and more support

• Others enjoyed being at home and made progress.

Some area leaders wanted to focus planning on CYP with SEND and their families

• aimed to keep services accessible, adapted when necessary

• Some practitioners described steps to ensure service continuity

• Families spoke about benefits of multi-agency practitioners together online

• Families valued online resources for education or therapy programmes

• But, short breaks, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, more difficult or impossible to deliver at distance

• also concerns about access because of technology or E2L

Relationships with families before March 2020 affected support during restrictions:

• Positive relationships meant support more likely to continue and be adapted to needs

• families referred to those who had gone ‘above and beyond’ and how this had benefited them

• weak relationships deteriorated further with serious consequences

• some families reported little or even no contact from practitioners, no learning support, no access to health, therapeutic services

• In some cases children’s health had deteriorated, children lost learning, communication skills.

Looking ahead:

• Local area leaders facing challenging circumstances

• increase in COVID-19 cases anticipated

• concern about staff burnout: months of significant change, high workloads

• priorities: support mental health, well-being of teams and CYP and families worked with

• enhance communication between services and users

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