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62% of parents want primary and exam-year pupils back in school after half term

40% of private school parents say their children are actively engaged in learning five or more hours a day, versus 12% of state-school parents.

By Justine Roberts | Last updated May 25, 2021

A mother and daughter studying together

A new Mumsnet survey of over 1000 UK parents of school-aged children reveals that 62% want children in primary and public exam years to return to school after the February half term. 75% say school lockdowns are harming children’s education, and 73% of those doing home-schooling say their child is more demotivated and disengaged than they would be on a ‘normal’ school day.

40% of parents whose children are in private schools say their children are actively engaged in learning five or more hours a day, compared with 12% of parents whose children are in state schools.

Working parents

Mothers are spending an average of 1.9 hours per day helping their children with schoolwork, while those with a male partner say their partner spends 0.7 hours on the task. 44% of parents are spending more than two hours actively supporting their child’s schoolwork every day. 21% say their child cannot do any of their home-schoolwork without parental intervention and help.

71% of primary school parents in paid work say ‘lockdown learning has made me a worse employee or less effective at work’. 55% overall, and 67% of those with primary school children, are worried they’re letting their employer down because of time spent supporting their children’s learning – and 75% are worried they’re not doing enough to support their children’s school work.

Impact on children

Parents of younger school-age children are finding things particularly difficult. 60% of parents with children in primary school say this period of lockdown learning is more difficult than the last one because it feels more permanent and exhausting.

Parents are increasingly worried about the impacts on their children’s wellbeing and future development. 75% say school lockdowns are harming children’s education, and 73% of those doing home-schooling say their child is more demotivated and disengaged than they would be on a ‘normal’ school day. (48% of those whose children are physically at school say the same.)

78% of parents say lockdown has been harmful to their children’s mental health, and 90% say it’s been harmful to their social lives. Of those who think that primary school children and exam-year pupils should go back to school after half term, almost half (48%) said the main reason was children’s mental health.   

Parental confidence

When asked about levels of confidence in the handling of COVID and children’s education:

  • 81% said they had confidence in their child’s own school
  • 78% said they had confidence in teachers and schools in general
  • 14% said they had confidence in the UK government, and
  • 11% said they had confidence in education ministers in Westminster (education ministers in devolved administrations scored 15%).

76% think teachers and schools have been given an impossible task in coping with COVID-related school closures, and 89% think parents who have young children and paid work are in an impossible situation.

Mumsnet Founder Justine Roberts said: “There are no bright spots here. Most parents accept that the national situation demands restrictions on school attendance, but the impacts on parents and children are serious. Working mothers in particular are really struggling, and worrying about their own future in the workplace as well as children’s education and wellbeing. We’re hearing of mothers getting up earlier and earlier and going to bed later and later at night, sometimes working past midnight to make up the hours they spend supporting their children during the day. Parents and children need some real clarity now about when and how schools might open, and about how exams will be handled.”

Survey of 1,002 Mumsnet users in the UK with at least one school aged child, between 20th January and 22nd January 2021. The data is not weighted.