Schools catchup programme could last FIVE YEARS as so many kids left behind in lockdown, Children's Commissioner warns

KIDS could be left scrambling around trying to catch up with their school work for FIVE years as so much time has been lost in lockdown, the Children's Commissioner has warned.

Anne Longfield – who is campaigning for schools to open as soon as possible – said parents were now pushing for their kids to return to classrooms over fears so many of them will be left behind.

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Yesterday the PM dashed hopes that kids would be back at their desks after February half-term, however, and he would only say he "hope" they will be able to return from March 8 onwards.

It's possible the date will slide again if infections are still high.

Kids will have then been out of the classrooms for more than two months – not counting the Christmas break or half-term.

And in an interview with the Spectator magazine, Ms Longfield said the Government's catch-up programme would have to go on for years.

At first, she thought two years of support would be needed – but now thinks even more.

She said: "As this goes on, we are talking about a cohort of children that probably, for the next three to five years, will need that kind of consideration of the loss they’ve had.

"Both in learning but also in that wider socialisation and confidence in their lives."

She stressed how one in six kids are now suffering with mental health problems – which is made worse by the current lockdown.

She is concerned the education catch-up programme is nowhere near what's needed to help needy kids get back on track.

Ms Longfield added: "When kids went back [after the summer holidays], teachers said they thought on average children were three months behind — but far more if they were dis-advantaged.

"That hasn’t yet come through so there does need to be a mechanism that actually measures what that loss has been..

"Yes, there’s a catch-up programme, yes there’s some mental health support coming. But it’s not on the scale of the emergency that we’re talking about."

Problems are being seen in kids right across the age spectrum, she warned, from kids who are scared of other children, to teens who have spent months in bed or playing computer games, rather than studying.

The Sun revealed this week that kids in lower years are likely to go back first – with kids in key exam years also bumped up the list.

It means some secondary school kids face waiting longer – possibly until after the Easter break to go back.

At the moment schools are only open for the kids of key worker pupils, and those who are vulnerable and need to go in.


But it's up to headteachers ultimately who they allow to come in.

Boris Johnson said last night food parcels and vouchers would continue as long as they needed to, while schools are shut.

He's not yet outlined how schools will go back.

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