Ofsted has today published the latest in a series of reports it is producing based on its inspections taking place during the pandemic.
The reports raise a number of issues faced by children and young people from a wide range of backgrounds as a result of COVID-19. Many of these issues reflect what we have had from our own members working on the ground. They also echo our concerns regarding the vulnerable children that have been out of sight due to the closure of schools over this period.
RCPCH President Professor Russell Viner said:
These findings from Ofsted are concerning but reflect what we're hearing from our members working both in the community and secondary care.
It will be some time before we understand the real extent of the impact of COVID-19 on the health and wellbeing of children and young people, but these observations make for worrying reading and demand action. We need to ensure that children’s services remain fully open during this pandemic winter and that services and children’s professionals are not redeployed to meet pressures elsewhere, no matter how pressing.
Schools fulfil many more functions than the delivery of formal education. Children and young people enjoy significant health and wellbeing benefits from attending school, and this is particularly true for the most vulnerable children. We are particularly concerned about the impact of the pandemic on children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans and those who face challenges at home.
The financial package announced this weekend for supporting disadvantaged families is very welcome, but Government must now ensure that Local Authorities, schools and community services have the resources they need to ensure targeted support for those children at risk of being left behind.
There are huge numbers of dedicated public servants working flat out to support the health and wellbeing of children and young people: teachers, carers, social workers, Local Authority staff as well as health workers in the community and primary care, to name just a few. There are countless examples of people going above and beyond the call of duty to protect the most vulnerable children. We pay tribute to their dedication and hard work in difficult circumstances.