Children up and down the country went back to school in September after 18 months of disruption to their education because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I know that we have all worked as hard as possible with our schools and other education partners to ensure that the new school year is not disrupted so our children and young people can continue learning and spend valuable time with their peers.
Research by the Co-op has found that children as young as 10 think that the pandemic will change the rest of their lives, with older children already struggling to find work and a third of children saying that the pandemic is making them less likely to pursue further education.
“There must be a robust plan in place to support children’s recovery and local councils should be at the forefront of this”
There must be a robust plan in place to support children’s recovery and local councils should be at the forefront of this, given the in-depth knowledge they have about their communities and what they need.
Children will need time to socialise with their friends and classmates after so much time apart, so support such as breakfast clubs and after school activities that give children the opportunity to socialise and try new things is essential.
Providing proper mental health support is also crucial, recognising the impact that prolonged lockdowns will have had, as well as supporting children through the potential challenges of returning to a regular routine.
We do not yet know the full impact that the disruption to schooling will have on longer-term educational outcomes. Tutoring should be made available to all pupils who feel that they need it and could benefit from it, and teachers need extra support for professional development in recognition of the new challenges that post-pandemic learning will bring.
We should be ambitious for our children and young people, investing in the skills and support that they will need for the workplaces of the future, and that the country will need to be internationally competitive.
As politicians, we have a duty to get this right.