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Parents and children struggled with home schooling during lockdown, poll shows

The Office for National Statistics asked parents how they balanced work and childcare and how home schooling affected their children.


The poll found 52% of parents thought their child had struggled to continue learning (Peter Byrne/PA)

The poll found 52% of parents thought their child had struggled to continue learning (Peter Byrne/PA)

The poll found 52% of parents thought their child had struggled to continue learning (Peter Byrne/PA)

More than half of pupils struggled to continue their education during lockdown, while some working parents thought their job had been negatively affected, according to new data.

Polls from the Office for National Statistics found 52% of parents thought their child had struggled to continue learning, with 77% citing a lack of motivation as a key factor and 43% blaming a lack of guidance and support.

Most children aged 16 to 18 who were in full-time education (64%) thought that continuing their education at home would negatively affect their future plans, the data also showed.


(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

The ONS assessed surveys of more than 12,000 people in the UK between April 3 and June 7 about their experiences of home schooling during the pandemic.

Of parents who were home schooling, 34% of women said it was negatively affecting their own wellbeing, compared with one in five men (20%).

Meanwhile, 43% of home schooling parents thought being at home and trying to learn was negatively affecting the wellbeing of their children.

The polls also found that women carried out most of the childcare during lockdown, while working parents often adjusted the times they worked to do more in the mornings and evenings.

Parents were most likely to help their children with schoolwork in the afternoons.

During the first weeks of lockdown, in households with children aged under 18, women were carrying out on average two-thirds more of the childcare duties per day than men, the figures showed.

Women were delivering an average of three hours and 18 minutes of childcare, which included time spent supervising children, while men contributed two hours.

Most of the time women spent with their children was on routine care such as feeding, washing and supervising, while time spent on learning and reading was spread more evenly between men and women.

But when it came to paid work, men were more likely to spend time doing that than women, the ONS research found.

On average, parents of children aged five to 10 said their child was doing about 10 hours of school work per week, rising to 16 hours for children aged 11 to 15.

But when there was a child aged four and under in the house, the amount of time spent on schoolwork by those aged five to 10 was significantly lower, the ONS reported.

Just 13% of children aged five to 10 had accessed real-time live lessons from schools, rising to 44% for children aged 16 to 18.


Schools were open only to the children of key workers for much of the pandemic (PA)

Schools were open only to the children of key workers for much of the pandemic (PA)


Schools were open only to the children of key workers for much of the pandemic (PA)

In April, parents who had not worked in the previous seven days before the study were significantly more likely to have home schooled than those who had not worked (86% compared with 74%).

Some 83% of parents with a degree-level qualification had home schooled, compared with 62% of parents without any formal qualifications, although there was no difference when it came to household income.

During April, only half of parents who were home schooling (49%) strongly or somewhat agreed that they were confident in their abilities to home school their children.

And nearly a third (30%) of parents who were home schooling and in employment said it was negatively affecting their job.

For parents in employment, those in the highest income band of £40,000 or more a year were significantly more likely – at 43% – to say this than those on lower incomes (16%).

For those home schooling in May, 67% of parents in employment said home schooling had affected their job.

More than one in four (28%) said one of the reasons was having to work around home schooling responsibilities, and almost three-fifths of parents giving this reason were women (59%).

Hugh Stickland, from the ONS, said: “Exploring people’s experiences during these past challenging months, we have continually seen that not everyone’s experience is the same. This is true for parents.

“The age of the children, especially, makes a big difference to their experience and, of course, if there is another adult with whom to share the additional work and responsibilities of life under lockdown.

“Most children engaged with home schooling, with online resources playing an especially large role in older children’s education.

“Men have been more involved than before in ‘developmental’ aspects of childcare. But many parents voiced concerns about the impact the experience had on their work and on their own and their children’s wellbeing and mental health.”

Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: “These findings show that a generation of children risk being left behind as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.

“Learning at home has been challenging especially for families without technology who are juggling work and caring responsibilities – but we also know many parents and children have real concerns about returning to school in September, in part due to fears about the virus.

“That’s why Barnardo’s is leading the new See, Hear, Respond programme, in partnership with national and local charities across England and with support from the Department for Education, which seeks to identify and support children who have struggled with mental health problems, abuse, and other risks, whilst being ‘hidden’ from services during the lockdown.

“It will also work with children, young people and families to help them return to education.”