Signs of abuse and neglect among children in England might not have been picked up on because of lockdown, according to a report by England’s chief inspector of schools.
Urgent action should be taken to identify children whose issues were missed because of the pandemic, according to Ofsted chief, Amanda Spielman.
The impact of kids not being in school and health visitors being unable to check in on them has had a “dramatic impact,” said the report.
‘Crumbling educational infrastructure’
In a briefing paper prior to the full release of the report, Ms Spielman said, “Covid-19 has exposed an already crumbling educational infrastructure that fails to meet the needs of our most vulnerable families too often.”
Children with special needs have seen their progress hampered drastically during lockdown, with the report singling out a case of a child with special needs who completely lost the ability to communicate during lockdown.
The report notes the concerns of many head teachers, who reported to inspectors that some older children have become involved in gang violence and child sexual exploitation, with many not returning to school after the first lockdown.
Domestic violence and abuse
Incidents of domestic violence and abuse have increased during lockdown. The report cited a 20 per cent rise in babies being killed or harmed, with eight babies dying of 64 deliberately harmed.
Referrals to children’s social care teams were down considerably during lockdown - around 20 per cent less than in previous years between April and June - according to the local government association.
The report, which was compiled based on more than 900 visitors to schools by Ofsted inspectors since the reopened in September, also recommends that GCSE and A Level exams go ahead next summer.
The Ofsted chief has argued that children should be kept in school as much as possible, because they often find it difficult to stay motivated at home.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said, "The safety and well-being of the most vulnerable children has always been our focus, which is why we kept nurseries, schools and colleges open for those children throughout the pandemic. It remains a national priority to keep full-time education open for all.”