It is the latest evidence of the severe impact of the Covid lockdowns, including their economic consequences, on a generation of children.
Government data shows persistent absence from school has doubled since the pandemic, with 1.7 million pupils now missing at least 10 per cent of school time.
The number of pupils missing 50 per cent of lessons has doubled, with 125,000 now missing most of their studies, which ministers have warned could cause a spike in juvenile delinquency.
Education leaders are also concerned about the impact of the lockdowns on this year’s exam cohorts, warning that teenagers in England who failed to take their GCSEs will face a harsh reality when they receive their A-level results in August and become the first Covid cohort to experience a return to pre-pandemic qualification standards.
Anne Longfield, who served as children’s commissioner during the Covid crisis, said: “The impact of the pandemic on the well-being and development of many of our children is extremely alarming.
“However, I am not convinced that the government fully understands the scale of the problem or the long-term consequences for our society and economy.”
IFS and UCL surveyed 6,095 parents living in England whose children were between the ages of four and 16 in February 2021, at the end of England’s third national lockdown and second period of national school closures.
The researchers asked parents 13 questions about their child’s behavior, including how often their child seemed worried, lost confidence easily, or had tantrums, both in February 2021 and retrospectively a year earlier.
They found that 47 percent of parents believed their children’s social and emotional skills had worsened during the first year of the pandemic. By contrast, only one in six children saw their social and emotional development improve during this period.
It was reported that 52% of children aged four to seven years had impaired social and emotional development, compared with 42% of children aged 12 to 15 years.