Guernsey Press

‘Pandemic had a profound impact on youngest pupils’

A DROP in Key Stage One results caused by the pandemic came as no surprise to Education Sport & Culture, its president has said.


‘Having been in office throughout the second lockdown, the Covid review reflected the situation as we have found it,’ said Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen.

‘It’s abnormal to lock ourselves away as we were required to do. The impact it had on the smallest children has been quite profound and noticed across the board by staff.’

The report into Guernsey’s Covid response largely praised the Bailiwick’s actions, but stated that it was ‘highly likely’ that the pandemic was responsible for the sudden fall in results for five- to seven-year-olds after three years of year-on-year improvement.

Deputy Dudley-Owen said that the pandemic had a definite impact on many children who were then of pre-school age, as children were denied the normal level of social interaction with their peers, which were normally taken for granted.

‘This shows itself in language, behaviour, being able to interact, play and share. Even just being in close proximity to peers and adults. For a four-year-old, half their life has been spent being constrained in social settings.

‘Even the overuse of digital devices for a prolonged period has impacted mark-making, being able to hold a pen and write. These were early skills we took for granted.’

She said ESC was now working to ensure these children can raise attainment and make progress during their primary school years.

Additional funding of £1.44m., spread across a three-year period, has been supplied to help with early- year provision, reading and writing, and young people’s mental health.

‘The intervention put in place due to this extra funding is greatly improving the situation. We are putting in increased intervention with literacy and staffing, and we would hope to see this cohort back on track by the time they reach secondary school.’

One other area of education affected by Covid were attendance levels.

Deputy Dudley-Owen said that this was slowly returning to normal.

‘We have been through a period where we have been discouraging mildly symptomatic children from attending school, and we do have children who can now be hypersensitive to illness, but culturally we are coming back to a balance,’ she said.

The appointment of family liaison officers had been key in supporting families to return to school, she added.