The Daily Telegraph

Parents twice as likely to be put on furlough

Stress of home schooling adversely affected the mental health of mothers, official report finds

- By Camilla Turner EDUCATION EDITOR

WORKERS with children were twice as likely to be furloughed than those without, official statistics show, as it emerged that mothers bore the brunt of home schooling.

An analysis of survey results by the Office for National Statistics in April and May found that 13.6 per cent of parents have been put on furlough, compared with 7.2 per cent of other adults.

Separate ONS data revealed that mothers suffered most from home schooling, with a third of women saying that the stress of teaching their children during lockdown affected their mental health. More than a quarter of parents (28 per cent) said that having to oversee their children’s education while schools were closed had dragged down their mood.

However, the figure rose to 34 per cent for mothers and dropped down to 20 per cent for fathers, according to a new set of data from the ONS.

Parents also said home schooling had a negative effect on the mental health of their children, with more than two in five parents (43 per cent) saying their children’s wellbeing has been adversely affected.

The ONS analysed the results of a survey of more than 12,000 British parents between April 3 and June 7 about their experience­s of home schooling during the pandemic.

“Parents appear to have been fitting their work around their childcare obligation­s, as the data shows they were more likely to work in the morning and at night,” ONS researcher­s said.

“More specifical­ly, a larger proportion of those working delivered developmen­tal childcare, such as helping with homework in the afternoon, roughly between 3pm and 6pm.”

Among working parents, almost a third said that having to home school their children had a negative impact on their job.

Those who earned more than £40,000 a year, meaning they were in the higher income band, were the most likely to find that home schooling was getting in the way of their work, with 43 per cent reporting a negative impact.

During the first weeks of lockdown, mothers carried out, on average, twothirds more of the childcare duties each day than men, the ONS found.

Women delivered an average of three hours and 18 minutes of childcare per day, while men contribute­d just two hours.

The ONS statistics echo previous studies that found women’s careers are regressing and taking Britain back to a Fifties style of living, with experts saying the pandemic has shifted childcare duties back on to mothers.

Research published last month by Sussex University found that the proportion of mothers responsibl­e for the vast majority of childcare rose from 27 to 45 per cent during lockdown.

Academics said the impact of school closures had exacerbate­d pre-existing gender inequaliti­es, with 70 per cent of the female participan­ts saying they were now completely or mostly responsibl­e for home schooling.

“Exploring people’s experience­s during these past challengin­g months, we have continuall­y seen that not everyone’s experience is the same. This is true for parents,” said Hugh Stickland from the ONS.

“The age of the children, especially, makes a big difference to their experience and, of course, if there is another adult with whom to share the additional work and responsibi­lities of life under lockdown.

“Men have been more involved than before in ‘developmen­tal’ aspects of childcare, but many parents voiced concerns about the impact the experience had on their work and on their own and their children’s wellbeing and mental health.”

Researcher­s said women are more likely to report that their wellbeing has been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, regardless of home schooling.

Previous ONS data showed 63 per cent of adults with children in the household reported that the pandemic had impacted their work, which was marginally higher than those without.

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