Truancy could rise in wake of school closures, Oxford study says

·3-min read
For some children, the effects will be “traumatic and long lasting”, researchers said
For some children, the effects will be “traumatic and long lasting”, researchers said

Truancy could rise in the wake of school closures, an Oxford University study has found, with researchers warning about the “traumatic” effect of lockdown on children.

All youngsters will experience “some adverse effects” from the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report published by Oxford’s department of education.

For some children, the effects will be “traumatic and long lasting” and could have a negative impact on their response to  returning to school in September, researchers said. 

Prof Harry Daniels, a fellow at Oxford’s Green Templeton College and one of the report’s authors, said that there is a “real risk” that schools will see a rise in truancy when they reopen.  

Children who have become withdrawn from learning during lockdown will struggle to reintegrate into education when schools reopen, the report found.

“Some young people are already bit on the anxious side and school generally is an uncomfortable place,” Prof Daniels said.

“They don’t like school and don’t feel well connected to school. These are children who are bullied or who  find the turmoil of school difficult to cope with.

“There are some pupils - and the people we spoke to said it was quite a substantial number – who have now removed themselves a stage further and simply will not come out of their bedrooms.

It is a reasonable concern that they also won’t come out of their bedroom when schools start again.”

Prof Daniels and his colleagues interviewed headteachers as well as senior public health, mental health and NHS officials about the impact of coronavirus on children.  

Researchers said that schools could also see a rise in exclusions when schools reopen, as children who have been living with stressful home environments are suddenly confronted with routines and rules.

“We were told by several people, notably people in the NHS, about children living in ‘pressure cooker homes’ where they face every kind of social pressure,” Prof Daniels said.

“Young people are absorbing all this pressure and they are like a bottle of fizzy liquid where there is a pressure building up until you take the top off and they explode.”

The report also notes that schools are updating their behaviour policies to include a raft of new rules dealing with health and hygiene regimes.

This could also lead to a rise in exclusions, since schools  “will become far less tolerant of students who refuse to follow instructions and comply with expectations”.

A separate piece of research, published earlier this month, found that more than two million children have done virtually no schoolwork during the lockdown.

One in five pupils in the UK – equating to around 2.3 million children – either did no home learning at all or less than one hour a day, according to the report by University College London's Institute of Education.

Researchers found that children spent an average of 2.5 hours each day doing schoolwork. This is around half the amount suggested by previous research, which implies that "learning losses are much greater than feared", academics said.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting