Parents anxious about return to school after children have missed out on 446 hours of social interaction

Clifton Lodge

Return to School

As parents across England prepare to send their children back to school, over 40% have said they feel anxious about the return.

In-school teaching has been eagerly awaited by the majority of parents but many admit they can’t help but have some reservations.

Wellbeing expert and teacher Beth Kerr said: “Many parents have told me they are looking forward to their children going back to the classroom, but they are worried about yet another change.  There is more understanding this time about covid safety but there is the debate around academic catch up, there are lots of worries about friendships, adjusting to being away from home and getting back into a routine.”

In the YouGov Omnibus Parents poll, 41% said they were anxious about aspects of their child returning to school. In the same poll, 24% of parents said their child was worried about fitting back into friendship groups.

Beth, Director of Wellbeing for Cognita which has 40 schools in the UK, practical things that help manage this phrase including Clifton Lodge Nursery & Prep School in Ealing, said worries are understandable and very natural but there are positively.

“Children and parents have been through so much upheaval. And now we are entering yet another transition period which could last any number of weeks depending on the child.

“Relationships – everything from friendships, ‘detaching’ from their parents too, adjusting to in-person connections with teachers and others back in school – are the key to navigating through another change.”

The majority of children have been home schooling during closures last spring and since Christmas, Pupils have missed out on an average of 17 weeks of school and 446 hours of social interaction during the two school closures.

Beth says parents can focus on supporting their child’s wellbeing, just like the teachers will be, and being patient about academic progress.

She added: “Helping your child with their friendships and them having extra meet-ups, when they can, trying to slowly get back into the routine and encouraging them to have plenty of fresh air and activity to help ensure high quality sleep will benefit children most at this stage.”

The majority of pupils will return to school in England on Monday 8 March.

Return to school 3 R’s


Good relationships are a strong predictor of children’s wellbeing. When restrictions permit, seek every opportunity for them to interact with friends and family.


Restful sleep is the single most effective thing we can encourage to help our children’s wellbeing. Make it a priority now to re-establish good sleep habits.


It can take time, but children respond well to consistency. Giving them some autonomy over the structure of their new routine will help them to accept changes.




Beth Kerr is Group Wellbeing Director at Cognita and Team Inspector at the Independent Schools Inspectorate. She is an experienced teacher and educational leader specialising in pastoral care and wellbeing. Beth finished her MSc from UCL in Child and Adolescent Mental Health in 2018 and is passionate about the role of educators in improving the wellbeing of young people today. Beth is particularly interested in neuroscience and the impact of digital media and screen time on children and adolescents. She regularly gives talks in the media and to parents and teachers on these topics.

Beth hails from Wales originally but now lives in north London with her husband, three children and their dog, Elvis.

Results from YouGov Children’s and Parents‘ Omnibus survey 2 March 2021 questioning 4198 parents

Is your child worried about fitting back into friendship groups at school?

Yes 24%

No 70%

Are there any aspects of your child’s return to school that you are particularly anxious about?

Yes 41%

No 55%


For more information contact:

Acting Head, Mr Graeme Smith

Clifton Lodge School

Address: 8 Mattock Lane, Ealing, London, W5 5BG



Phone: 020 8579 3662

020 8579 3662