There follows a guest post by Hugh McCarthy, a retired Headteacher in Northern Ireland who until recently served as a Director on two of the province’s main education councils and who remains a ministerial appointment on one.
The damage to our children highlighted in recent reports and briefly summarised below should act as a clarion call and a warning that we should never close schools again, never send children home to isolate and avoid wearing masks around children. And the whole edifice has been based on the fear-inducing, ineffective and harm-causing masks and the totally misleading and flawed PCR tests.
This article addresses the question, What do we do now?
First, a brief reminder of what the education reports found. The Ofsted report highlighted a huge range of damaging impacts including:
- delays in babies’ physical development;
- a generation of babies struggling to crawl and communicate;
- toddlers struggling with speech and language;
- regression in children’s independence.
Research by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) found that the negative impact of Covid lockdowns continues as children get older. The impact of lockdowns on the development of literacy skills at an early age is of “particular concern”, the report states, as “early reading plays a key part in children’s later achievement”. It adds:
We found that, compared to what we would have expected pre-pandemic, there were well over double the proportion of children who barely scored any marks on the reading assessments in Year 1 and in Year 2 in the last school year.
The observations of the Head of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists in Northern Ireland back up what the reports say: “A growing number of young children are experiencing significant communication problems following the Covid lockdowns. We’re seeing young children who can’t talk at all.”
These findings should set alarm bells ringing.
Does it matter?
The importance of these early years is highlighted in the recently published Fair Start report into educational underachievement.
The scale of the tragedy is underlined by the substantial body of research contained in the report. It emphasises that “children’s early experiences have a profound and lasting impact on their future learning and development”, and confirms that “investing in quality early childhood education for disadvantaged children has significant and long term benefits for individuals and society”.
A study by the New South Wales Government quantifies the harm. Its finding that 90% of brain development takes place in the first five years (2,000 days) of life underlines the crucial importance of not making the same mistakes again.
Are children at risk from Covid? What were the risks to young children for which many have paid such a heavy and potentially life changing price? Data show children have a 99.999% survival chance if they contract the virus.
And we already knew. The data have been clear since March 2020. According to Dr. David Bell, a world renowned public health official, “Most people, working age adults and very young children were at very very low risk”. He maintains that “accurate data and balanced evidence should be made available to the public and key decision makers to make decisions that are in everyone’s interest”.
Unlike the rest of the world, Sweden maintained some semblance of normality. The citizens of this country generally didn’t have to wear face masks, young children continued going to school, leisure activities were largely allowed to continue unhindered. Why didn’t we look more closely?
One analysis compared the death tolls in over 50 countries, including the U.K., that had locked down, countries that had variously shut down playgrounds, forced their children to wear facemasks and closed schools. The research found that they have all been hit worse than Sweden in terms of total Covid mortality. This means that “almost every single government intervention, in particular, lockdowns, school closures, mask mandates, mass testing and ‘contact tracing’”, as well as ‘vaccine passports’, have been entirely ineffective and unjustified while having caused almost unprecedented social and economic harm”.
This is a finding confirmed by Professor Robert Dingwall, who reports on data published by the WHO on estimates of excess deaths globally for 2020 and 2021. It looked at data across Europe and found that Sweden had half the excess death rate of the U.K., Germany or Spain.
This research shows the fallacy of closing schools to prevent transmission and save adult lives.
Learning for children is a continuous process – it cannot take place in fits and starts.
There will be a widening gap between those whose parents are willing and able to help and those who are not. For those who are challenged by education, it is disastrous.
Children need to socialise – playgroup, school, sport, choir, clubs and so on are vital for children’s health, mental health and for their development.
What about children living in cramped conditions, what about the rising tide of abuse and self-harm, how do they learn and develop?
Speaking at the “Question Everything” conference in July 2021, Dr. Zenobia Storah, a Senior Clinical Psychologist within the NHS, said “the Government disregarded everything we know about human beings”, adding “[we are seeing] a massive increase in mental stress across all age groups, a huge deterioration in young people when schools are closed – self harm, abuse, eating disorders… we have totally failed children”.
The children were not in a place where they could work, study, learn and develop.
The Government view that technology can make up for lost learning is not supported by the evidence. The Netherlands, the country best placed to operate a technology-based home education system reported: “Losses are up to 60% larger among students from less-educated homes, confirming worries about the uneven toll of the pandemic on children and families. The findings imply that students made little or no progress while learning from home and suggest losses even larger in countries with weaker infrastructure or longer school closures.”
And how is this technology relevant for babies and very young children?
Just a word about the reliability of the test. Is it a sufficiently robust tool to use to close schools and nurseries, send huge numbers of children home and into isolation and thereby destroy their education, development and life chances?
Professor Jack Lambert, Ireland’s leading infectious disease expert, said:
PCR cannot distinguish infectious live virus from residual dead virus or viral fragments from previous infection. Therefore many ‘cases’ have no real meaning in terms of medical status or transmission potential; it will probably identify harmless viral fragments and the test will be deemed ‘positive’. In Ireland, Ct value cut-offs of 35-45 are the norm. High Ct values (over 35 or even 30) suggest a non-infectious patient,
Yet we have been applying a cycle frequency in the range 40-45.
Professor Richard Ennos of Edinburgh University expressed it thus in the Belfast Newsletter:
The PCR test is completely useless for the purpose for which it is being employed – namely the detection of COVID-19 infected individuals who can infect others. Furthermore since children are hardly affected, and show vanishingly small frequencies of transmission to adults, there is no reason to be worried about SARS-CoV-2 passing through children at school.
Therefore the PCR test results are completely inappropriate for providing evidence of whether there is an outbreak in a school.
As Dr. Ros Jones, retired NHS Consultant Paediatrician, speaking on the Pandemic podcast on January 26th 2022, said: “The closure of schools [was] for no good reason.”
The sad reality is that children’s well being, development and life chances have been seriously damaged by measures designed to combat a virus from which they have a 99.999% survival chance, measures which cause them great harms and were known to do so. The damage to children was immense and potentially long lasting.
What should we do?
- There should be substantial investment in these early years.
- Accurate contextual information should also be provided to the public to enable them to make decisions about their own health and that of their families, including the actual risks to children.
- A significant and substantive risk/benefit analysis must be carried out before we embark on potentially destructive policies such as school closures, isolating and quarantining children, mask wearing, mass testing.
- Until this is carried out, parents should be informed that it is not scientifically justified to wear a mask around young children and that so doing harms their development.
- Children should not be masked.
And we should follow the example of Professor Ennos:
Children are the most precious gift we can receive. They trust us to care, protect and love them in a difficult world. In the last 18 months we have utterly betrayed this trust and subjected them to wholly unnecessary and hugely damaging and degrading treatments in the name of keeping ourselves safe.
I am utterly ashamed of the immoral and selfish behaviour of the adult generations who have condoned this masking and PCR testing of children. The only honourable step that we can take, as adults, is immediately to remove these restrictions on our children, and ask their forgiveness for the wrong we have done them.