A spike in the number of children considered vulnerable is likely to be seen after the Covid-19 outbreak due to “trauma” caused by the pandemic, Education Secretary John Swinney has said.
Appearing before Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee as part of its inquiry into the Government’s response to the virus, Mr Swinney said a traumatic experience like the loss of a loved one could see some children pushed into the vulnerable category.
He said there would be a “significant set of issues” created by the coronavirus outbreak, adding: “Some young people who were not previously deemed to be vulnerable will become vulnerable as a result of the experience around coronavirus.
“Some of that may well be the fact that they acquire trauma as a consequence of this experience, young people will be exposed to bereavement, perhaps in circumstances where they would not have access, because of lockdown, to family support that would allow them to perhaps come to terms with that bereavement.
“These are issues that we know from all the work that we’ve done throughout the years on adverse childhood experience that can contribute to the acquisition of trauma.
“I don’t underestimate the scale of the challenge that will face us as a consequence of coronavirus on some of these wider harms that are created.”
The Education Secretary also agreed to look into the possibility of offering pupils from more deprived areas extra support as they prepare to return to school after the lockdown.
Scottish Labour education spokesman Iain Gray asked the minister if he would consider a scheme being touted in the north of England, where poorer pupils will receive extra tutoring in groups or one-to-one.
Mr Swinney said: “There is a distinctive approach that needs to be taken to meet the needs of young people from deprived backgrounds as they return to formal schooling.
“The idea that he’s put forward seems to me to be a reasonable idea and I’ll make sure that it’s considered by the particular work stream of the Education Recovery Group that’s looking at providing support to children and young people.”
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