COVID-19: Lockdowns have harmed speech and language for young children
Leeds City Centre during a lockdown
The impact of Covid-19 lockdowns in Leeds has led to difficulties in communication and language skills among very young children, a report has claimed.
It claims early years workers in the city have noticed that a lack of play and socialisation among children aged 2-4 over the past 18 months has led to difficulties in them being ready for school.
It added that there was also a shortage of staff in the sector, and that the number and quality of applicants coming into the early years childcare setting was not sufficient.
The report, set to go before Leeds City Council’s Children’s scrutiny board, said: “Early years settings are beginning to see the impact of the pandemic on their children’s learning and development.
“Many providers report that children’s communication and language skills and their social development have been negatively impacted as children have had reduced opportunities to play, talk and socialise.
“Transition arrangements for settling children into new settings or school have also been impacted and this has affected how quickly and easily some children have settled into new routines and provision.”
The report, which looks into the effects of Covid-19 on early years social care, warned that some groups would be disproportionately affected in the long term by the aftermath of the pandemic.
There are currently more than 1,300 active childcare registrations in the city – most being either private companies or self-employed individuals.
But the report added that the threat of positive Covid cases was still leading to staffing shortages and safety concerns from providers.
It added: “There is some anxiety about having children and staff in settings where they have been a close contact of a positive case and providers are concerned about the impact this could have on case numbers.
“Staff shortages remain an issue as there are still some staff who need to self-isolate where there are positive cases.”
“There are also recruitment challenges in terms of the number and quality of applicants for early years vacancies.
“Professional development and quality improvement have not been a priority for settings over the last 18 months and Ofsted inspections have been suspended for this period.”
While inspections have resumed, the report claimed the introduction of new reforms would be difficult over the coming year.
The report will be discussed by Leeds City Council’s Children’s Scrutiny Board on Wednesday, October 13.
Words: Local Democracy Reporter
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