Many parents say school closures negatively impacted children - CSO

Pupils spending much longer learning at home this year compared to 2020

Mothers were more likely to have taken unpaid leave or to have changed to working from home. Photograph: Getty

Mothers were more likely to have taken unpaid leave or to have changed to working from home. Photograph: Getty

 

Many parents say school closures have had a “very negative” impact on their children’s learning and social development, according to research by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The CSO survey - based on a questionnaire of 1,600 adults - also found that children are spending much longer learning online during school closures this year compared to last.

Despite this, significant numbers of parents have continued to express concern over the extent of their children’s learning loss.

Parents of second level students are most likely to report that closures have had a major negative impact on their children’s learning (36 per cent) compared to primary pupils (15 per cent).

At second level, concern was highest among parents of fifth and sixth year students (48 per cent) and lower among first, second and third years (25 per cent).

There was a similar pattern of responses when parents were asked about the impact of closures on their children’s social development.

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One in three parents with a child in secondary school report that they have suffered socially, while the rate among parents of primary school student is one one in five.

The research also indicates that schools have been better prepared to provide online or remote learning during the 2021 school closures.

Seven in ten parents reported that their children in secondary school were spending five hours or more each day on learning activities in January and February, up from three in ten last year during last year’s school closures.

The pattern was repeated at primary level. Last year, about 33 per cent of parents said their child spent three hours or more each day on learning activities provided by their primary school. This increased to 57 per cent during primary school closures in 2021.

The survey also shows the impact of school closures on parents with many reporting that they had to change their working patterns to assist with homeschooling.

Parents spent an average of almost an hour per day helping primary school children with their schoolwork during the latest round of school closures.

Most employed parents of primary school children reported having to adjust their working hours. Female respondents were more likely to report an impact than males.

In relation to the type of impact, fathers with a child in primary school were more likely to report working the same hours but in a disjointed pattern throughout the day or week.

Mothers were more likely to have taken unpaid leave or to have changed to working from home.