The voice of the parent has featured strongly in the papers this week. Parents have expressed concerns about the current level of Government funding for early years, and the impact of lockdown on children’s speech and social skills, with many calling for primary testing to be paused.

 

Lockdown harmful for children’s speech and social skills

Research from the Education Endowment Foundation has found that repeated lockdowns over the last year have had a negative impact on young children’s language skills. Data from 50,000 pupils across England shows an increased number of four and five-year-olds needing help with language. Less contact with grandparents, cancelled play dates and the wearing of face coverings in public have left children less exposed to essential experiences. Read more on BBC News.

Similarly, Daily Express reported results from a survey by Busy Bees nursery chain, which found more than seven in ten parents are concerned that lockdown has set back their child’s social development. Children have become less confident and more reclusive. In response, the government says it is investing £18m in early-years catch-up, including extra help for those in Reception year.

 

Pause primary school tests

A coalition of head teachers, parents and MPs are calling for ministers to pause SATs and all statutory assessments in primary schools in England to give children time to catch up on lost learning. The campaign group More than a Score has found that only 15% of parents think spending time preparing for SATs should be included in a catch-up programme for pupils, and 67% would prefer the programme to include children taking part in activities such as group sports, outdoor play, and drama. Find out more in Evening Standard.

We have been calling for government to scrap plans to bring in the Reception Baseline Assessment, which will put unnecessary pressure on young children at a time when their mental health should be a priority. Maccs Pescatore, CEO of Montessori Centre International, featured in Cambridge News talking about the issue. An extract of her letter to editor is below.

 

“Evidence shows that assessments do not accurately measure young children’s progress – even in ‘normal’ times – and particularly this year, entering such a high-pressured system of testing may have a damaging impact on children’s mental health. What children really need now and come September, is encouragement and the freedom to socialise, play and develop key skills communication and creativity – all of which are vital life skills that will be more important than ever in a post pandemic world.”

 

Research from the APPG for Childcare and Early Education

Research from the APPG for Childcare and Early Education, of which we are a sponsor, found that only 11% of parents think the current level of funding for their nursery, pre-school or home-based educator is adequate. Parents expressed concerns that the underfunding could lead to settings having to close and affect their own ability to go back to the office. Read more in Evening Standard.