Go back a step

Ofsted report into the impact of the pandemic across education settings

Tuesday 10th November 2020

The education watchdog, Ofsted has published its second report on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This follows more than 900 Ofsted visits to education and social care providers during September and October to hear more about how providers are coping with the challenging start to the new academic year.

Ofsted also provided an evidence report from six visits to local areas, looking at their special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The report finds across all age groups, children with SEND have been seriously affected in both their care and education, as the services that families relied on - particularly speech and language services - were unavailable.

Contact's response

Amanda Batten, Chief Executive of Contact, said: "Today's Ofsted report echoes what we are hearing from families with disabled children calling our helpline. It is deeply concerning that a lot of the support that disabled children are so reliant on including physiotherapy, speech and language therapy and psychotherapy are not back to pre pandemic levels. This has had an impact on children's anxiety, their behaviour and potentially on their longer term development.

"In addition there are some disabled children who are still not back at school due to issues including guidance around tracheostomies, heightened anxiety and fears around transmission. This means that children with often complex needs or challenging behaviour have been home for a very long time without the support they need.

"We are calling on the Government to give clear direction to therapy services to prioritise children with SEN and disabilities, and to make clear that therapists shouldn't be redeployed during this lockdown or in the future. This is vital to disabled children's physical or educational development."

Coping got harder as time went on

Other findings from today's report include:

  • Many families told Ofsted that they found first national COVID-19 restrictions challenging and that coping got harder as time went on
  • Parents and carers who normally relied on established routines, informal and family support networks and specialist services for their children struggled without them.
  • Some families spoke about their child's regression, their own emerging mental health difficulties, the challenges of explaining restrictions to their children, or real concerns about the risks the virus posed to their child's health.

Families in all six areas spoke about the benefits of bringing multi-agency practitioners together online. They also valued online resources when they were able to follow education or therapy programmes and support their children's learning and development. However, some services, such as short breaks, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, were more difficult or impossible to deliver at distance.

There were also concerns that not all families were able to access online provision equally because they did not have the technology or because English was not their first language.

Ofsted's report looking at local areas' SEND provision  is one of 5 reports that have been published from Ofsted's visits looking at:

Keep up to date with all the latest and most important Covid-19 news and information for families with disabled children from Contact here.

Find out more about Contact's work with Parent Carer Forums (in England- groups of parents and carers of disabled children who work with local authorities to make sure the services in their area meet the needs of disabled children and their families.