Education and wellbeing of children remains as important as ever after lockdown

Elizabeth McCallum, who is a family barrister and co-founder of Children in the Middle.

A WESTCOUNTRY legal practice which specialises in child-focused family law says a youngster’s education and wellbeing is now more important than ever after the COVID-19 lockdown (September 2020).

It was recently revealed by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) that children from wealthier families were spending more time studying during the pandemic than poorer children.

Family barrister, Elizabeth McCallum, who co-founded the legal service, Children in the Middle®, with fellow Exeter barrister Sarah Evans, says: “Understandably, parents have had a lot to worry about recently. Many face an uncertain future and money will no doubt be tight for many. These figures from the IFS highlight lots of issues about inequality and, also, how worrying and difficult this time has been for youngsters. We’re expecting divorce and separation rates to increase too, so if you add all this together, it’s not a good time to be a child in England.

“They have missed a good chunk of school time and although parents have tried their best, home schooling can be difficult, especially if parents have been working from home at the same time or there are other children in the household to look after and home-school too.

“The IFS surveyed the parents of 5,500 school-aged children in England and compared the richest 20% of pupils with the poorest 20%. It said children from wealthier families were spending more time studying during the pandemic than poorer children.

“A child’s education and ultimately, their wellbeing, is now more important than ever, so it’s important for them to get back to school and for parents to support them in any way possible.”

The Department for Education recently announced a national tutoring programme, including £350m of funding for additional targeted support for children and young people aged 5-19 years who are most in need of help.

Elizabeth added: “These stresses may be making other issues seem insurmountable for parents, so we’d urge anyone who is feeling that they are on the precipice of making a decision to divorce or separate, to consider if this is ultimately what they want, or if other strains may be clouding their judgment.

“We advise parents to always put their children first when considering a split with their partner. Children have had a lot to put up with recently including interference with their daily routines, worries about the virus and how dangerous it may be for yours and their health.

“They might also be worried about returning to school in September, if they haven’t already been in yet since the lockdown in March, and have fears related to mask wearing. These concerns may already be playing on their minds, as well as any discussions they may have overheard you having about your financial situation and the potential impacts of this, such as selling the family home. They will potentially already be feeling insecure before you add in splitting up.”

Children in the Middle® is one of the few legal services in the country offering people the chance to speak directly to barristers. In the past a solicitor was required to instruct a barrister, but due to rule changes under the Public Access Scheme, members of the public are now able to instruct barristers direct. 

Elizabeth continues: “For almost all of our clients, their children are their main focus and they wish to make the separation impact on their children as little as possible.

“If you need help with sorting out the arrangements for the care of your children, get in touch with us. We are specialist barristers. There is no need for a solicitor – you can come direct to us, the experts.”

For further details, please call Children in the Middle® on 0117 214 1797. Alternatively, please visit www.childreninthemiddle.co.uk.

The Exeter Daily