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Back To School 2021

A total of 1,473 parents and 121 children and young people participated in Barnardos’ annual Back to School Survey, which took place during June and July 2021.

The survey responses showed that while children are largely looking forward to returning to school in September, the majority of parents still have concerns about their children’s development, in particular educational, emotional and social. In addition, the survey results highlight the level of adversity families faced over the past twelve months, including increased mental health issues, financial concerns, isolation and lack of social support. 

‘My 7-year-old has had a total of 18 months desk time in front of a teacher. They’re behind 7 months of time and a year of actual learning. They need another year of catch up.’ 

(Parent, Barnardos Back to School Survey 2021) 

‘My child suffers terribly with anxiety & doesn’t like to leave the house for anything! It’s like ww3 to go for a walk! On returning to school last April, his anxiety was manifesting in physical.’ 

(Secondary School Parent, Barnardos Back to School Survey 2021)

School Costs Infographic 2021

See the 2021 infographic results

2021 Back To School Infographic

2021 Survey Findings

  • 41% of children feel happy about returning to school, 17% are excited, 14% are worried, 8% are sad and the remaining 20% don’t care.
  • 74% of parents believe their children are ready to move into the next year of school. Despite this, over 60% of primary school parents and almost 70% of secondary school parents said they were concerned about the educational development of their child.
  • 23% of parents of primary school children and 9% of secondary school children said their children spent less than an hour a day learning last year.
  • Over 30% of parents stated they are concerned about children’s behaviour and their ability to follow school rules and structure when returning to the classroom. 21% of primary school parents and 33% of secondary school parents said they were concerned their children may not want to return to school.
  • 63% of parents said they were worried about their children’s emotional development while 53% of primary school parents and 64% of secondary school parents were worried about anxiety.
  • 51% of parents stated they are concerned about their children’s social skills and 58% of secondary school parents and 47% of primary school parents were concerned about their child’s loneliness.
  • 63% of primary school parents and 73% of secondary school parents stated that their children will need support on returning to school. 49% of parents are not confident that these support needs will be met on return to school.
  • 52% of parents said that their families had experienced mental health difficulties over the past twelve months, 50% reported tensions at home, 54% experienced financial concerns, 59% felt isolated and 48% stated they lacked social support. 29% of parents felt that these difficulties have had a negative impact on their child.
  • Over 50% of parents said they were concerned about the cost of returning to school. One third of all parents said that meeting costs this year will be made more difficult as a result of Covid. About 20% of parents take out some form of loan to pay for school costs.
  • 52% of primary school parents and 65% of secondary school parents said the costs of uniforms had increased. 53% of primary school parents and 48% of secondary school parents said the cost of their child’s books had increased since last year.