This briefing draws on inspection evidence gathered in the spring 2022 term and discussions with early years inspectors about the ongoing implications of the pandemic on children.
- The pandemic has continued to affect children’s communication and language development, and many providers noticed delays in their speech and language progress. Providers are making more referrals for external help than before the pandemic and are waiting longer for this specialist help. To compensate, providers were making sure that children were learning in an environment rich with language, with a focus on extending vocabulary and practising speech.
- The negative impact on children’s personal, social and emotional development has also continued, with many children lacking confidence in group activities. Some older children, who would not normally have been upset when being dropped off by their parents, were still unsettled after a period of attending settings regularly. Consequently, providers were focusing on helping children to express how they feel and had made more opportunities for children to socialise in larger groups as restrictions lifted.
- Some providers continue to notice delays in babies’ physical development. Several have increased the amount of time children spend on physical activities, both indoors and outdoors, to develop their gross motor skills.
- All providers have made changes to their procedures since the start of the pandemic, and some of these remain. For example, most no longer expect parents to enter the premises when dropping off or collecting children. While this can mean children develop independence in tasks such as hanging up their coats, it can also mean parents and providers miss opportunities to share in-depth information. Providers have adapted the ways they keep parents informed and involved in their child’s progress throughout the pandemic. For example, some have used digital methods, such as video calls and secure messaging platforms, and telephone calls to contact parents.
- Providers reported difficulties retaining high-quality staff. This has left some providers with fewer skilled practitioners. These difficulties have affected the quality of teaching and the implementation of catch-up strategies. To compensate, many providers have encouraged staff to complete online training and, in some cases, specialist training, such as in techniques to support speech and language development.
Please read the full guidance.
For free Early Years Social and Emotional Learning activities from Partnership for Children please visit their website.
To access nasen's Early Years resources please visit our dedicated section.