Meeting the Children’s Needs
Meeting vulnerable children’s needs:
Overall, about half of the sample felt that the lockdown affected ‘vulnerable’ children, e.g., increased anxiety levels, which made them more alert about their needs, while the other half reported being already aware about these. When asked about any concerns they had about meeting the children’s needs during the outbreak, about half of both groups were regularly or frequently worried about it having considered available resources, costs, staff, and priorities during the outbreak. We got mixed responses in relation to the effect that practices during the outbreak had on their views on meeting their children’s learning, wellbeing, safeguarding, medical/health needs reflecting the variability in the personal experience they had. On the theme of contribution of new technologies to meeting the needs of their children during the outbreak, the views of practitioners and families overall showed a similar picture. More than half of the whole sample agreed that new technologies contributed a lot on interacting with others, keeping optimistic supporting each other. About the same proportion of each group reported having gained confidence in the effectiveness of new technologies to support their children’s needs. Practitioners appeared to be more on board with the idea of using social media during and after the lockdown to meet learner’s needs than families. It is worth noticing that about a third of the sample remained indecisive about the effectiveness of contribution of new technologies to meeting their children’s needs during and after the lockdown. Qualitative responses shed more light in participants’ views.
Findings in more detail showed that:
- When asked if they thought that the lockdown revealed or magnified any additional needs of their children, 41.3% of practitioners agreed and they felt that this will help settings care for them better after the lockdown. 30.2% disagreed and 28.6% were indecisive. In a similar vein, 52.6% of families agreed, 21.1% disagreed and another 21.1% were indecisive. Qualitative responses from practitioners referred to higher levels of anxiety from children and families. Families’ responses mentioned that the lockdown highlighted some of their children’s needs and the importance of peer interaction to be inspired and complete learning tasks.
- In relation to meeting the needs of vulnerable children during the outbreak, when asking families how often they were worried about meeting their child’s needs at home during the outbreak, 38.2% and 21.1% reported feeling that regularly or frequently, while a 25% and 14.5% felt that a little or not at all. Qualitative responses showed that their worries centred around meeting mainly the learning needs of their children during the outbreak. In another question, 18.4% of families said that they were shocked by the changes, but they gradually gained confidence in that children’s needs are met as they get used to practices and procedures. 28.9% said that they were optimistic in the beginning, but they gradually lost faith in the sustainability of the practices/procedures. 19.7% continued to be optimistic about meeting the children’s needs during the outbreak as they did not see much difference from the provision offered before the outbreak. Finally, 21.1% always felt that there is so much families can do to meet the children’s needs during the outbreak and wait for the return to regular schooling. In the same question, 39.7% of practitioners said that they were shocked by the changes when initially imposed but they gradually gained confidence in that children’s needs are met as they get used to practices and procedures. 22.2% said that they were optimistic in the beginning, but they gradually lost faith in the sustainability of the practices/procedures. 14.3% continued to be optimistic about meeting the children’s needs during the outbreak as they did not see much difference from the provision offered before the outbreak. 19% always felt that there is so much settings can do to meet the children’s needs during the outbreak and wait for the return to regular schooling.
- In another question, we asked our respondents to consider available resources, costs, staff, and priorities during the outbreak and tell us whether they felt worried about meeting vulnerable children’s needs. 15.9% of practitioners reported being worried regularly and 33.3% frequently. 36.5% were a little worried and 11.1% not at all. Qualitative responses focused on lack of facilities and staffing to keep the social distancing and safety measures. In the same question, 13.2% of families were a little worried and 18.4% not at all. However, there was also a 39.5% of families that reported being worried regularly and 15.8% frequently. Qualitative responses referred to cases where lack of social skills impacted on the child’s exclusion and feelings of isolation even if in school.
- We asked families about whether their children had access to resources to meet their needs (learning, wellbeing, safeguarding, medical/health) during the lockdown. 48.7% of families reported that they did, while 51.3% that they did not. Qualitative responses reflected mixed views. Families referred to accessing advice from the Local Authority instead of school. Some families mentioned a decrease in receiving medical support, speech and language support and mental health support from children’s services, which in some cases were replaced by resources from school.
Contribution of new technologies during the lockdown:
- When asked about whether participants saw a revolution in the use of social media and technologies during the outbreak, which should be continued after the lockdown about 50% of the whole sample agreed. Practitioners seemed more on board with 60% agreeing and 16.1% disagreeing, while 42.1% of families agreed and 26.3% disagreed. It is interesting that about ¼ of the whole sample were indecisive.
- 67.7% of practitioners agreed that social media and new technologies made a large contribution to maintaining communication, optimism and supporting each other during the outbreak. 60.5% of families agreed with the same statement and about ¼ of the whole sample were indecisive.
- In another question, 20.6% of practitioners and 13.2% of families said they were happy to have discovered a use of social media to the benefit of their children.
- 41.3% of practitioners said they have gained confidence in the effectiveness of new technologies to address the needs of ‘vulnerable’ children and felt schools should exploit them more after the lockdown. 20.6% disagreed with that statement and 38.1% were indecisive. In a similar vein, 38.2% of families agreed with the same statement, 21.1% disagreed and 39.5% were indecisive. Qualitative responses from families highlighted issues with accessibility, also mentioning cases of children avoiding types of online teaching, such as through Zoom or Skype. On the other hand, other families acknowledged the benefit of online over in-hospital appointments during the lockdown.
Browse the rest of the ‘Results’ sub-pages from the drop down menu in the banner to find out more about participants’ views by theme:
For Practices During COVID- 19: https://blogs.reading.ac.uk/vunerable-children-covid-19/practices-during-covid-19/
For Wellbeing, Mental Health and Safeguarding: https://blogs.reading.ac.uk/vunerable-children-covid-19/wellbeing-and-mental-health-2/
For Meeting the Children’s Needs: https://blogs.reading.ac.uk/vunerable-children-covid-19/meeting-the-childrens-needs/
For Reopening Schools: https://blogs.reading.ac.uk/vunerable-children-covid-19/reopening-schools-2/