School closures and returning to school: views of parents of children with disabilities in England during the Covid-19 pandemic

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Abstract

This paper describes the findings of a survey issued to English parents of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities about the impact of school closures and of returning to school on both children and parents, as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. It also looks at the impact of returning to school. The survey was issued between October 2020 and January 2021, when the first wave of the pandemic had passed in England, and schools had reopened. Parents of deprived neighbourhoods were more likely to report detrimental effects of school closures on their children’s mental health; parents of children attending specialized settings and of girls were more likely to report negative effects of school closures on their children’s physical health; and ethnically diverse parents reported detrimental effects on their own physical and mental health. The vast majority of parents considered returning to school beneficial for their children, but some have mentioned it has been worse for them, raising questions (that need to be addressed in the post-pandemic world) as to whether our schools are serving all children with special needs in a fair and equitable way. For some, returning to school represented a return to anxiety and emotional issues, thus, policy and practice need to rethink the role of future schools as key sources of support to all children with special educational needs and disabilities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Education, Special Educational Needs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 Apr 2021

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