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Coronavirus (COVID-19): closure and re-opening of schools - children's rights and wellbeing impact assessment

This impact assessment considers the impacts to children’s rights and wellbeing (CRWIA) as a result of the closure of schools due to COVID-19, the plan to reopen schools full-time from August 2020, and the associated contingency of a blended learning model. 


CRWIA – Stage 3 Publication Template

CRWIA for a non-legislative policy/measure

CRWIA title: A phased reopening of schools as part of the COVID-19 Scottish recovery process

Publication date:

Summary of policy aims and desired outcomes

This policy aims for pupils to return to full-time education from 11 Aug

Executive summary

This impact assessment considers the impacts to children’s rights and wellbeing as a result of: the closure of schools; the reopening of schools to support transition and planning and preparation for learning; the reopening of schools full time to all pupils; and the contingency of a blended learning model.

The assessment specifically considers children and young people who may be more adversely affected by school closure, and the actions taken to mitigate the impact of those closures. It is recognised also that for some children and young people learning at home has been beneficial to their learning.

Background

As part of the Scottish Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Deputy First Minister announced on 19 March 2020 that all local authority schools and nurseries in Scotland should close from the end of the school day on Friday 20 March 2020. This decision was taken in light of advice from the Chief Medical Officer.

Emergency childcare was made available in a series of “hubs” for children of key workers and vulnerable[27][1] children and schools were asked to support pupils with home learning, where possible.

Professionals from across the education and Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) sectors have taken action to support children and young people through these challenging times. However, school closures are considered to be having a negative effect on all aspects of children’s progress and development, including their learning and their wellbeing, including their mental health.[28]

The Scottish Government has taken a series of actions, together with partners, to mitigate these impacts wherever possible, and to secure the wellbeing of children and young people as we return to learning in school, as part of a blended learning model.

The Scottish Government COVID-19 Advisory Group was established in March 2020 to apply the advice coming to the four nations from the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) and other appropriate sources of evidence and information and use it to inform local decisions in Scotland during the pandemic. Later, a sub-group specialising in children’s and education issues was also established to provide more bespoke advice. This includes providing insight and modelling to ministers and the COVID-19 Education Recovery Group (CERG).

The CERG was established in April 2020 to support government decision making through providing insight into the practicalities around reopening schools and ELC settings. The focus of the group is on how schools should reopen once the science indicates that it is safe to do so. The group is supported by ten workstreams, which draw on expertise from across the sectors, to recognise and respond to multiple factors that have already affected or will affect children and young people, families and the education workforce.

Scope of the CRWIA, identifying the children and young people affected by the policy, and summarising the evidence base

The CRWIA applies to all children and young people who are on the school roll of an independent, grant aided or education authority school in Scotland, who are aged up to 18 years of age. It is recognised that there are some young people on the school roll in Scotland who are aged 19, to whom this would apply, although the scope is limited to 18 year olds.

There is a significant evidence base to support the decisions to close and reopen schools. Due to the nature of the pandemic, there is necessarily less evidence than would usually be available to support associated policy development. However, there is significant evidence of young people’s views through surveys undertaken by 3rd sector organisations. These have been referenced throughout, as appropriate.

Children and young people’s views and experiences

There is clear evidence of children and young people’s views and experiences of lockdown and their views on school closure, learning at home and returning to school, gathered by 3rd sector organisations.

Key Findings, including an assessment of the impact on children’s rights, and how the measure will contribute to children’s wellbeing

The impact assessment found that children’s rights and wellbeing were negatively impacted by school closure in most cases, although there is some evidence that some young people have benefitted from learning at home. There have been significant actions to mitigate negative impact, but it is not possible to mitigate all of the impacts that have occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact to children and young people’s wellbeing is recognised and has been highlighted as part of planning for educational recovery.

The full return to school in August would be the most effective approach to mitigate the impact of school closures, but this is contingent on other factors.

Monitoring and review

There will be continued monitoring of impact as part of educational recovery.

CRWIA Declaration

Authorisation

Learning Directorate: Covid-19 Education Recovery Group Secretariat

Date
29th July 2020

Deputy Director or equivalent
Sam Anson
Deputy Director
Improvement, Attainment and Wellbeing Division

Date
29th July 2020

Contact

Email: CERG@gov.scot

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