Downing Street today published the findings in a move to reassure worried parents and teachers about its plan to re-open schools on June 1.
The documents – which also confirmed the risk of children catching coronavirus was “much lower” than adults, were released as militant teaching unions and councils prepared to defy the government and refuse to go back.
Only a handful of councils plan to reopen schools on June 1, leaving parents across the country in the dark over their children’s education.
The final decision on whether or not to open up classrooms will fall to headteachers and teaching unions.
Now new documents warn children will be affected forever by missing out on lessons, with the most vulnerable hit hardest.
In a report into the impact of school closures, it says: “A cohort of children have experienced a shock to their education which will persist and affect their education and work outcomes for the rest of their lives.
“Similarly, the current lockdown may lead to an increase in adverse childhood experiences”.
The document warns this could include domestic violence, poor parental mental health, child neglect, and abuse.
It also found the most vulnerable are more likely to suffer because of the lockdown, specifically those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and those with learning needs, social difficulties, emotional and mental health (SEMH).
It said: “Attachment is likely to be a significant issue, especially for children with SEMH.
“We know that a failure to positively support psychological development are likely to have longer negative implications for child development.
“The most vulnerable will also be negatively affected by existing family distress,housing, poverty, lack of outside space and opportunities for play and exercise, crucial for positive mental health and wider development.”
The warnings include:
- Children with special educational needs and disability “very likely” to be adversely affected
- More vulnerable children likely to be affected the most
- Learning at home more likely to reinforce inequalities between children
- Emotional problems could be missed by psychologists
- The risk to children’s welfare has “increased significantly”
- Almost 7 in 10 surveyed said school closure had impacted on their child’s
- Almost 3 in 10 said it impacted their child’s physical health
The report was authored by Gavin Morgan of UCL, Brooke Rogers of King’s College London, and Chris Bonell of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Finished on April 16 2020, it was also worked on by G.J. Melendez-Torres of Exeter University, and Alistair Smith of the Department of Education.
The documents also support going back to schools, in a blow to the hardline union bosses – who have claimed it could cost lives.
The advice will pile pressure on the army of councils rebelling against the date to drop their opposition and let kids back to class.
According to a survey of 151 local authorities in England by The Times, only a small minority were willing to abide by Government advice.
Almost two thirds of local authorities responded but only 17 of them said they would be planning a return for June 1.
Another 47 said they were leaving it up to individual schools and headteachers and they would not lay out directions.
Nine councils said they hadn’t yet decided or did not provide a clear response.
The documents claim it is no more dangerous for teachers than any other key worker.
A whopping 10.6 million people – a third of all workers – are ‘key workers’ across the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics.
This includes NHS and social care staff, but also an army of other workers including bus and train drivers, supermarket staff, police and some council staff.
Hardline unions had drawn up a list of 169 health and safety demands before teachers go back to class.
One of the sticking points is having a robust contact tracing system in place – a move Mr Johnson said would be up and running by June 1.
It comes as parents were being told to make their minds up by today if they intend to send their primary school-aged children back to school after half term.
The state schools that are opening have sent letters to parents asking whether they intend to keep their children at home or not, and say they need to know today what their decision is.
This morning an independent group of scientific experts warned schools can’t open safely by June 1.
Former Chief Scientific Adviser and chair of ‘the Independent SAGE’ group, Sir David King has urged the Government to push back the date to reopen the nation’s schools.
The Independent Sage group has slammed the Government for failing to bring in contact tracing faster – saying it could have curbed new infections in just three weeks.