“School is not just where we learn, it is where we socialise, play and grow as young people….”

The aim is that all children will be back in their classrooms by September. Even then, social distancing may make school a very different place than it was before and pupils may struggle to adjust or catch up after so long at home. Issues of student wellbeing will need to be high priority, as will a rising disparity between students from wealthier and poorer backgrounds. 

In this blog, we hear from #iwill Ambassadors on their perspectives on going back to school. Extracts from these perspectives were included in a Daily Mirror article, which you can read here.

Claire, Co-op Academy Swinton, Manchester, 15

“As a Year 11 student, the proposition of pupils going back to school wouldn’t affect me until autumn approaches. Nevertheless, during this crisis, I think that it isn’t essential for every pupil to return to their school. It simply isn’t safe. However, I firmly believe that it is crucial for some to return. 

Some students don’t have enough time, resources or accessibility to complete their school work. Young people from low socio-economic backgrounds need to have the support that places of education would regularly provide. As well as this, school often produces a safe and welcoming environment for those who don’t have that necessary structure within their own household. Children with various responsibilities, such as young carers, should have more balance and stability in their lives.

Acknowledging and confronting these needs is a necessity so that all young people can maximise their share of the benefits of education. It is the duty of those with power to accommodate and protect the nation’s young. Failing to do so is robbing many students of the meaningful experience of learning as they mature.

Support is vital for those in need.”

Esther, Tytherington School, Macclesfield, 14

School is not just where we learn, it is where we socialise, play and grow as young people. Honestly there are things I don’t miss, just like anyone else, days where I’m thrilled that I can stay at home. But there are loads of things I really do miss – clubs, music, my friends.

The experience of school is so rich and varied whether it is someone cracking a joke in class, bumping into a friend in the corridor, and even the bad things, like lining up for a fire drill together in the rain. We learn from these interactions and become better people because of them, and of course we learn about our subjects too. 

The impacts of this crisis on our learning will have an affect on all of us, but especially as a state school student it worries me to see the gap growing between state and private education.

My headteacher, Mr Botwe thinks, ‘Students have already missed weeks of learning. We [schools] are the only institution in society which provides a safe space for young people to explore controversial issues. During these times, the notion of a school community feels more vital than ever.’

I agree, and I can’t wait to get back – as soon as it is safe.

Dev, Rushey Mead Academy, Leicester, 15

“For me, a 15-year-old, completing my GCSE’s next year, the thought of school closure seemed horrifying. Undoubtedly, Year 10’s and 12 seem to have been the worst hit losing nearly 25% of their in-school learning. For me, not being in school, makes it exceptionally difficult to learn – while knowing next year’s grades will have a huge impact on me.

Teaching is supposed to be as interactive as possible. You don’t achieve that when looking into a screen.

For most students the inability to stay motivated and concentrate combined with the fact that most haven’t completed their work has caused vast gaps in our learning. The restriction on schools is causing irreversible damage to our learning and will affect our grades massively.

For a lot of young people, home isn’t an ideal learning environment. It took me several weeks to find my perfect working style and to fully adapt to home learning. However, we often forget those with no access to the internet or laptops, those with difficult circumstances at home or those young people who have to care for a family member. The stress and workload for those most disadvantaged, can really make the difference of them reaching their full potentials.

Schools act as a community hub for students. Undoubtedly, they have had to fill the empty void youth clubs have left the past decade. The students of Britain are now missing out on getting the most basic of human contact and other vital services such as mental health support and physical activity.”

Dev has also been successful in advocating for the government to provide food vouchers to families who receive free school meals throughout the summer holidays. Read his comments to the BBC here.