This week’s re-introduction of a National Lockdown has been met with much confusion, anxiety and apprehension by educators across the sector regarding how the latest changes will further affect young people’s education going forward. The announcement detailed that schools will remain open only to the children of key workers and vulnerable young people. With summer exams set to be cancelled for Year 11’s and A level students across the country.
Whilst we understand the importance of the precautionary measures required to stop the virus, we cannot help but feel young people’s education and mental wellbeing have, once again, been left as an afterthought. With parents, schools and education charities struggling to pick up the pieces.
School plays a crucial role in creating spaces for young people to feel safe and secure. There is comfort to be found in regular structure and routine. With the news of exam results being significantly affected by the announcement, this lack of clarity around young people’s futures has only heightened feelings of confusion and anxiety. The uncertainty created by Covid-19 has seen anxiety levels amongst youth groups soar. With a Young Minds study indicating that 80% of young people surveyed admitting that their mental health has declined due to the pandemic.
OUR RESPONSE: EVERY YOUNG PERSON, EVERY WEEK.
As an education charity, the biggest lesson we took from the FBB Virtual School is that regular meaningful contact with young people is absolutely essential. It ensures that young people don’t feel disconnected from school and their friends during this tough time.
Therefore our approach is clear. We will maintain a consistent presence in young people’s lives during this lockdown, and we aim to do this by providing meaningful contact, weekly, until we can be back in our classroom sessions again. This will involve:
- One-to-one Zoom calls/Google Hangout sessions for a young person.
- Weekly online sessions for our FBB groups to come together and speak to their friends and practitioners.
- Face-to-face contact via schools for vulnerable young people.
- A series of online creative projects that build on young people’s passions.
Our approach has been heavily informed by three clear reflections we observed from speaking to the young people on our programmes. Coupled with understanding national trends on the general responsiveness to digital learning during the first Lockdown:
- Young People’s Voices: Our young people told us how much they valued the fact that we maintained a relationship with them despite the barriers of lockdown.
- National Evidence: Only 5% of vulnerable young people engaged with school during the last lockdown. We reached 95% of our young people during the last lockdown.
- Our Core theoretical principles: Through our work we understand the value of a reliable, consistent presence of relatable role models in a young person’s life, and how this can go a long way towards building strong relationships.
Much of the journey ahead will be challenging. Creating safe digital environments where young people can access the educational resources they need to thrive will not be easy. However, we are fully committed to doing what we possibly can to ensure young people are provided with the support they need. To ensure they do not become an afterthought in the crucial weeks ahead.
As the FBB participant KJ who took part in our last Virtual School said reflecting on the last lockdown and the FBB Virtual School:
“No one contacted me. But you called me every week. You must really care.”