Fewer children are ‘school ready’ following COVID-19 nursery closures

Date: 28th January 2021
Category: Education, Leisure and Cultural Activities, Child poverty

Black chalk board with 'BACK TO SCHOOL' written on it. Next to the chalk board is a rocket, pens, a lightbulb, a globe, a clock, an apple, a briefcase and a stack of books.

Research has shown nearly half (46%) of children who started reception class in 2020 were not “school ready”, compared with 35% in 2019. Teachers reported a key factor was less time spent at nursery due to lockdown.

Teachers report many children are starting school without basic skills such as being able to go to the toilet unaided, put on a coat or respond to questions.

Dr Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez, of Oxford Brookes University, who is leading a study of more than 500 primary schools said: “[a] key purpose of nurseries is that they provide high-quality education and enriching activities which improve children’s cognitive and social-emotional outcomes.”

The ability for parent and carers to do enriching activities with their children during lockdown, such as; reading, arts and crafts or gardening created a positive increase in their vocabularies and cognitive skills. However, children in the most deprived communities were less likely to have these opportunities, and so are facing the converse effect. Dr Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez noted that these children may have less access to resources such as age-appropriate books and private gardens for outdoor learning.

In addition to this, the closure of nurseries has reduced the social contact many young children have, as nurseries allow children to learn about friendships and sharing through collaborative play.

  • Read more about both studies here and here.