The gap between disadvantaged children and their better-off peers has widened since the start of the pandemic, according to nearly half of those working with preschoolers.
One in six said fewer children were reaching the expected level of learning and development compared to March 2020.
In an exclusive survey for Sky News, The Early Years Alliance, which represents and advocates for preschool circles, asked its members about the changes they have seen in children over the past year.
The findings raised concerns about growing inequalities, with early childhood practitioners fearing “a generation partially lost.”
Even before they start school, there is already a gap in level between the most economically disadvantaged children and their peers.
In 2019, 71% of children entering school had the expected level of learning, but for those who received free school meals, it was 55%.
In the absence of data on the impact of the pandemic, the only way to assess the current situation is to hear the experiences of early childhood professionals.
More than 1,300 education professionals working in nurseries, nursery schools and childcare facilities responded to the survey.
Some 75% said they saw changes in the development of children who did not show up during the first lockdown.
In addition, 49% said the education gap between the poorest children and their peers has widened, and 11% said the widening was “significant”.
Many parents said they noticed big changes in their children, having socialized much less during the pandemic.
“It was probably the lowest point I’ve ever experienced as a parent,” said Philomena O’Rawe, whose daughter Elsie-Mai is due to start school in September.
“Nothing was as difficult as the first lockdown.”
Ms. O’Rawe is a single parent and her eldest son has special needs.
When the pandemic hit, her special school closed and she …
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This notice was published: 2021-05-13 23:32:00