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  •  While children can’t wait to get back to the classroom, parents have mixed feelings when it comes to kids going back to school, with 56% worried about their children’s mental wellbeing and a third worried their child has fallen behind (31%)
  • With 39% of parents not confident that schools will remain open for the rest of the school year, two-fifths (42%) are also worried about their child’s confidence/anxiety levels getting back to normal and the lasting impact of lockdown on their child’s mental health (37%)
  • Anxieties are higher for low-income families – 39% of children feel that they have fallen behind with their schoolwork, with parents having spent the year worrying about paying bills and buying food

The majority of children in the UK aged between six and 18 are happy (41%) and excited (37%) about going back to school, having missed, on average, 95 days of education[1], since the pandemic’s onset, a Save the Children survey reveals.

Nearly one year on from the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and with children in England set to return to school on Monday 8th March, and with children across the devolved nations taking part in a phased return, the research also shows a turbulent year for family mental health. Parents are continuing to worry about their children’s mental wellbeing and their missed education.

Children are optimistic and excited, with 82% of them believing that there had been some positives to lockdown, the top three being that they feel closer to their family, feel ‘more chilled’ and have read more books. Sixty-nine per cent of them are confident they will catch up on their education.

Last year proved a struggle both financially and mentally for many households. Parents had to juggle working from home to look after children and or reduce working hours. Many parents (55%) are struggling to stay positive and 43% are struggling to cope emotionally.

The findings also show that mums in particular are worrying about their child’s mental health, with 46% concerned their child’s confidence/anxiety levels will not get back to normal over the next few months or that the pandemic will leave a lasting impact on their child’s mental health (37%). 

The increase in worry and the effects on the mental health of families are more prevalent in lower income households[2]; two fifths (39%) of children feel that they have fallen behind with their schoolwork and a fifth have not had the right equipment to learn from home. Nearly half of parents in low-income families have worried about paying bills (47%) and buying food for their family (43%) over the past year.  

Head of Early Years at Save the Children UK, Tracy Jackson, said: “This survey shows what we have always known; that the resilience and optimisim of children is never ending. The fact that so many are happy and excited to get back to school shows that the next generation really are ready to bounce back. 

“However, we work with families across the country whose experiences reflect the more worrying results of this survey – parents are anxious about their children’s mental wellbeing after a year of lockdown and many don’t think their children will ever be able to catch up with their education. Most strikingly, these worries are affecting low-income families who are also having to think about making ends meet.

“That’s why we are continuing to support families across the UK whilst also asking the UK government for a long-term solution to ensure families who are struggling because of Covid-19 – many of whom were facing challenges before the pandemic - have the financial support they need to make ends meet. While the Chancellor’s decision not to cut Universal Credit for another 6 months will help families in the short term, extending support for at least a year would provide families with more certainty, especially given unemployment is set to rise.”

When schools first closed in 2020, Save the Children developed an emergency package for the UK’s most vulnerable families affected by Covid-19. They have now reached 13,800 children, including awarding grants to more than 6,000 families.

For further information and to donate to Save the Children’s Coronavirus Appeal please visit: www.savethechildren.org.uk


Spokespeople are available. To arrange an interview please contact media@savethechildren.org.uk / 020 7012 6841

Notes to Editors:

Save the Children

Save the Children fights every single day for children’s futures. We stand side by side with children in the toughest places to be a child. In places where others won’t go, we’re there, giving everything to make sure they survive, get protected, and have the chance to learn. Every child should get to make their mark on the world and build a better future for us all.

For more information visit www.savethechildren.org.uk


The research for Save the Children was carried out online by Opinion Matters between 26.02.21 and 01.03.21 amongst a panel resulting in 1009 parents with children aged 6-18 years old and children aged 6-18 years old in the UK. All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2019) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines. Opinion Matters is registered with the Information Commissioner's Office and is fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (2018).

[1] This figure has been calculated based on figure of 8.9 million UK children in state schools who missed out on 850 million days in the classroom since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic which equalling 95 lost days, on average, in UK schools

[2] Low-income families are counted as panelists who stated they have an annual household income of less than £15,000