8th March…the beginning of the end of lockdown
This week Boris Johnson unveiled the roadmap out of lockdown - from Monday 8th March, all schools in England are to reopen as part of the prime minister's first step in lifting the coronavirus lockdown. The reopening of education settings is being prioritised due to the considerable and proven impact caused by being out of school on the mental and physical health and wellbeing of children and young people. Schools are not just a place for learning - they are places where children socialise, grow emotionally and, for some, escape troubled family life. The closure of schools throughout the pandemic has had both short term and long-term impacts for many.
March 8th has been long awaited by parents and children. Glassdoor’s research just before the roadmap was announced highlighted the impact home schooling has been having on both parents and children. They found that a typical home worker was disrupted by their children six times a day on average, and 2 in 5 believed their child’s attainment levels have dropped during lockdown’s home schooling. Two thirds additionally reported they wanted their children to go back to school “as soon as possible”. The back-to-school announcement will be a sigh of relief for many, and a rise in both parents and children’s productivity and wellbeing may soon follow too.
While the return to school date is one many cannot wait for, we need to recognise that it is going to be a transition and a big change for children. Understanding how children will deal with making the move back into real life learning and socialising again after a whole year away is a question that remains unanswered. By February half-term, the total loss in face-to-face schooling time amounted to around half a normal school year for children right across the UK – which is more than 5% of children’s entire time in school. From speaking to children, pupils have mixed opinions about returning to school; while some are excited, others are hesitant. Many have got used to this new norm and enjoyed this period at home so the change can be daunting.
Ensuring all students feel supported and making sure the return to school is both a positive and long lasting one is very important. Throughout our blogs we have focused and examined the changes that have occurred, and the impact home-schooling and coronavirus has had on children, parents, their health, and their lives overall. But understanding the long-term impacts are yet to be 100% confirmed. Although the impressions of returning to school are positive and can outweigh the risks, ensuring the transition back to school and to learning is a smooth one and the correct practices are put in place to ensure the level of anxiety is minimised for all is key. Schools and the education sector will need to acknowledge the impact that lockdown has had on children’s learning and confidence, and that both teachers and children will need an adjustment period whilst returning to school again.
We think it is crucial to listen to young people’s voices during this time and understand the changes they are experiencing. Our recent tracker wave looked at young people’s opinions about different aspects of their lives, including online learning during lockdown and how they were feeling. To find out more about this, and young people’s behaviours and attitudes on a wide variety of topics, contact Helen or Afra (email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org).