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Back To School

Most parents believe children will require additional supports when back to school - survey

63% were concerned about their children’s emotional development and 51% were concerned about social skills.

THE MAJORITY OF parents are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their child’s educational development, a survey has found.

The Barnardos back-to-school survey has flagged a range of issues arising from the pandemic, ranging from mental health difficulties to increased financial pressure, as a result of everything from school closures and homeschooling to wider societal disruption.

Close to 1,500 parents took part in the survey, and findings indicate that many believe their children may require additional supports.

63% were concerned about their children’s emotional development, 51% were concerned about social skills, and 30% were concerned about their child’s ability to follow rules in the classroom when they returned – 33% were concerned their children may not want to return to school at all.

And while most parents believe their child will require additional supports – 63% at primary and 73% at secondary level – just under half of the parents surveyed believe that these needs will not be met.

However, the majority of children are still happy or excited about returning to the classroom.

“We are calling on the government to publish promised plans to address the additional educational support needs of children,” Barnardos chief executive Suzanne Connolly said in a statement.

“Schools should be provided the autonomy and flexibility to respond effectively to the individual level of need among children in their school and determine the support required.

“These plans need to be communicated to parents to help ease their concerns and focus on those most impacted by the pandemic and homeschooling and those who faced educational disadvantage before lockdown.”

Financial pressures remained on some parents, with 54% experiencing money concerns in some way over the past year. One third said meeting the rising costs of returning to school is now more difficult because of the pandemic, and 20% had to take out a loan.

Some of the testimony provided to the survey included:

Our education system is way too expensive, the back to school allowance definitely doesn’t even half cover the expenses of primary school kids, even with a book rental scheme. I dread this time of year even more than I dread Christmas time.
 He will have to return to school with a uniform that has stains as I can’t afford to buy a new one.
Children adapt but they also soak everything in like little sponges. They see and hear everything at home, even when we try our best to shelter them from adult conversations etc. Then they carry this with them on top of their worries and the Covid anxiety.
My 7-year-old has had a total of 18 months desk time in front of a teacher. They’re behind 7 months of time and a year of actual learning. They need another year of catch up.

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