One in four parents 'consider quitting work' in lockdown amid childcare struggles

28 July 2020, 11:17

Parents have struggled with home schooling during lockdown
Parents have struggled with home schooling during lockdown. Picture: Getty

By Ewan Somerville

One in four parents have considered giving up work or reducing their hours due to childcare issues during lockdown, a survey suggests.

More than two in three (69%) working parents said in June they lacked alternative childcare options to homeschooling.

Education lawyers warned that a second lockdown would have a "devastating impact" on families burdened with childcare and homeschooling in addition to usual work commitments.

A survey, commissioned by law firm Simpson Millar, suggests nearly a fifth (18%) of parents think secondary schools have not done enough to support their children's education needs, while 15% of parents with primary school children said the school could have done more during the lockdown.

Schools closed to all pupils in March, except children of key workers. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged a full September return, but most pupils will have been out of the classroom for six months. 

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Parents will have been out of school for six months by September
Parents will have been out of school for six months by September. Picture: Getty

Nearly half (45%) of parents said that their mental health had been impacted by being at home with their children during the lockdown, according to the poll of 1,001 parents across the UK, shared with the PA news agency.

Of the 871 working parents who were surveyed, 25% said they had considered cutting their working hours or giving up work because of childcare issues. More than a fifth (23%) said their employer could not accommodate flexible working. 

Imogen Jolley, head of education law at Simpson Millar, said: "Many families have struggled with the challenges presented by the pandemic and the reality of homeschooling while trying to work.

"A second wave and a further lockdown would clearly have a devastating impact on the mental wellbeing of these families, let alone the educational wellbeing of the children, with many reporting that they have not had enough support from the schools."

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Ms Jolley has called on the Government "to publish a Plan B" for what would happen if schools cannot open for all pupils in September that takes into consideration the impact on children's wellbeing.

Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said schools are aware of the impact of lockdown on the mental health of children and pastoral support will be a priority in the autumn term.

She said: "It is important not to catastrophise this situation. It is challenging, but schools and colleges are very good at supporting children.

"We agree that the Government should put in place a national Plan B for education in the event of a second wave of coronavirus which makes the full opening of schools impossible.”