Sheffield pupils’ speech and language skills over the course of the last academic year have been set back by the pandemic, according to experts.
According to the latest research from Speech Link and Education Endowment Foundation, the past year of lockdown had a severe effect on pupils’ speech skills and has deprived them of experiences essential for developing vocabulary.
Hannah Cooper, 19, a Speech and Language Therapy student at the University of Sheffield, said: “COVID-19 has had a vast impact on the younger generation in terms of their development. It is easy for one to overlook the importance of their attendance at school as they aren’t necessarily completing external examinations.
“Many parents have struggled to juggle home schooling and their jobs and daily lifestyle. It has been very draining and intense for families especially with younger children, so many children have perhaps fallen behind the usual rate of development.”
Having to make do in front of a computer screen for months, children in their early years of education were restricted to virtual means of communication, which has caused widespread concern among parents and teachers across the UK.
Ms Keeper added: “Daily interactions with peers and the school community are essential to children’s development and when children miss these critical milestones, it’s very difficult to make up for lost time.
“Perhaps this will be more noticeable in their future schooling years, but it’s fair to say that children have had to navigate an extremely difficult and different world without having equipped many language and social skills.
“I hope this places more emphasis on primary schooling in the years to come as more structured education needs to be facilitated rather than just child care.”
Liam Fitzpatrick, 18, a Journalism student at the University of Sheffield said: “One of the under-looked elements of the pandemic has been the effects lockdown has had as well as the virus.
“A necessary evil, lockdown decimated education and for young children it took a sledgehammer to their development.
“The early years of school are vital to a young persons development and the worry will be that the effects of the pandemic on education could be felt for many years even after the public health threat has subsided.”