The difficulty with trying to predict what impact the Coronavirus lockdown has had, is that none of us have been in this situation before. In fact, there is very little that we can draw parallels with.
Being a former senior leader in a secondary school, I find it hard to foresee what the immediate future holds for students, teachers, parents and the education community as a whole.
I think it is healthy to discuss our thoughts and feelings about this, which is why I wanted to write this blog. The intellectual discussion between educators and all stakeholders can be hugely beneficial.
I have read lots about what is expected to happen and found much of it interesting.
A particular ‘go to’ source for me is the Children’s commissioner website. “Children's Commissioner, Anne Longfield promotes and protects the rights of children, especially the most vulnerable, and stands up for their views and interests.”
Anne Longfield has been a voice of reason and clarity for me during this period. I find what she writes and the research her department do, particularly refreshing as it is about the child and rarely clouded by political arguments or bureaucracy.
“Without intervention, school closures are likely to widen the disadvantage gap further still. The annual ‘learning loss’ experienced by pupils each summer is evidence for this. The vast majority of children decline academically over the long summer break, but for disadvantaged children the effect is particularly pronounced: evidence suggests that the summer holidays might account for almost two thirds of the attainment gap between rich and poor children at age 14. Research from the Sutton Trust has already shown that by the start of this month, 34% of pupils had taken part in live or recorded online lessons, and that pupils from middle class homes are much more likely to have taken part (30% doing so at least once a day compared to 16% of working class pupils). At private schools, 51% of primary and 57% of secondary students have accessed online lessons every day, more than twice as likely as their counterparts in state schools.”- Childrens Commissioner May 2020
Schools were already tackling a widening gap with all the resources and Pupil Premium funding that were under such scrutiny. What I do know if that educators, on the whole, are brilliant innovators. They will find suitably imaginative ways of trying to ensure this gap is closed as fast as it opens. However, I feel we must accept that this period could have a profound impact on some for a generation to come.
School based anxiety
Whilst working as a middle and senior leader I found an increasing issue in schools was the problem of school-based anxiety.
“Two thirds (66%) of the children we spoke with told us they felt most stressed about homework and/or exams, ahead of worrying about what other people think of them (39%) and bullying (25%).” – Study CC March 2020
Despite the obvious things that children might be anxious about, this time away from school will have an effect. How can it not?
We have all had that Sunday evening dread. The feeling that you are about to start another busy, stressful week and you wish you could press pause just for a few more hours. Or the feeling after returning from a sunny holiday abroad, when you are working your way through the mountains of washing, when you remember you are back to normality the next day. Work!
We all have that anxious, slightly nauseating feeling. Well imagine what that will be like for some who will not be returning to school until September, at the very earliest! They will have had their last lesson in March, nearly 6 months earlier!
Food for thought!
Check out the Schools commissioner website https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/
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