A THIRD of parents in Scotland are worried about the long-term impact of the pandemic on their child’s learning, as a survey found that some pupils have compared their current school experience to prison.

The vast majority (70 per cent) of parents who took part in the research by charity Connect said the return to school or nursery since lockdown is “going well” for their children, although a quarter of respondents said they had “some worries”.

However, 34% said they are concerned about longer lasting negative impacts on their child’s learning as a result of the disruption to classes and school life caused by Covid, with 9% saying they were “not at all confident” about their child’s learning this year and believe there will be severe impacts.

The study was carried out from September 17 to October 31 by Connect, whose members come from Parent Councils, Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) and other parent groups.

In total, 572 parents from 29 local authority areas took part.

More than half (56%) said they had not received any information from their child’s school about blended learning - where schoolwork has to be done at home - in the event of another lockdown or for periods of self-isolation.

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Nearly one in five (17%) said their child needed a device, such as a tablet, for schoolwork but had not been given one.

Concerns were raised about variation between schools, with some managing to restore musical instrument tuition and

hot meals in the canteen, while others have not.

Some parents voiced frustration about cutbacks in exercise due to PE lessons having to take place outdoors.

One said their child was “really missing PE” because their “teacher doesn’t bother with it as it has to be outside”.

Worries were raised about the psychological and social impacts of social distancing and awareness of infection risks, with one parent saying their child had compared the current school experience “to a prison” because they are “confined to their desk all day”.

One parent said their children “used to love school” but the changes “have made them feel ‘sad, fearful, worried, dirty, bad, lonely’ in their own words’ ", while another said their child's teacher "continually refers to risk of Covid-19, increase in cases, risk to her and children. It’s awful’".

Social bubbles which prevent pupils mixing with youngsters from other classes were highlighted by several parents.

One said their son was now “split up from his friends” and another said their daughter’s social bubble “doesn’t include my daughter’s friends”.

Another said their daughter was “feeling suffocated being with her class bubble all the time”.

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Lack of engagement from schools during lockdown was also raised by some parents.

One said: “There was zero contact from the school or anyone looking at my daughter’s work during lockdown.

“She enjoys being back at school to see friends but is disconnected from school learning which she enjoyed before lockdown.”

More than 20% of parents said lessons in some subjects had been dropped since pupils returned to school - particularly music, drama and practical subjects - and nearly 40% said before and after school activities had stopped.

Connect said it was especially worrying that 11% of parents reported that the specialist help their child needs was no longer available or reduced, warning that this "will impact significantly on children who need extra support".

Eileen Prior, executive director of Connect, said: “Our Back at School parent/carer survey tells us that most children are happy to be back at school, which is good news.

“However, some problem-solving work needs to be done on re-introducing practical subjects and activities that children and young people are really missing such as art, more PE, music, drama.

“These, as well as hot meals and specialist support for children who need it, should be prioritised for the sake of children’s mental health, wellbeing and learning.

“Our survey suggests parental confidence in their children’s learning is not strong. This seems to be because of a lack of communication about learning from schools/nurseries.

“If parental engagement in children’s learning and school lives - a key driver in children’s outcomes - is on the backburner, this will impact children negatively.

“We’re calling for parental engagement and better communication with parents to be a priority, now and into the future.”

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Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “We are grateful to all the teachers, school staff and many others who worked so hard to reopen schools safely, and it is welcome to see the majority of parents who responded feel school is going well for their child and are confident in their child’s learning.

"This experience has reminded us of the vital role that parents play in supporting their children’s learning, and the importance of listening to parents’ expertise.

"Two way communication and engagement between schools and families is vital and our guidance for schools includes advice on ways to do this. If there is a need to take further action we will work with teachers, parents, trades unions, local authorities and young people’s representatives to do so.”