And we’re back. As England’s students returned to the classroom on Monday and talks turn to the extra support needed in school catch up plans, this week’s Education Insights shed light on the new coalition focusing on mental health, how students really feel about being back, and the mutually beneficial way France is battling isolation within its elderly.
First day back at school has "gone well", say heads
We are pleased to hear from Headteachers that the first day back at school for millions of children in England has "gone well". As schools returned on Monday, they are reporting high levels of take-up of Covid tests and compliance with new rules on wearing masks in secondary school classrooms, something we know educators had their doubts about. PM Boris Johnson has thanked parents for teaching their children at home, stating "We all know that the burden has disproportionately fallen on women - often holding down jobs and providing childcare at the same time."
New Action Group to boost mental health education
A new coalition of health and education experts met for the first time this week to look at the impact of the pandemic on the mental health children, young people and education staff across England. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was joined by Government ministers and Youth Mental Health Ambassador Dr Alex George to discuss how to respond to mental health issues and help education staff manage their wellbeing. Through our work with organisations such as Bupa, we have seen first-hand the importance of mental wellbeing in a school environment, and are looking forward to seeing action as a result of this new coalition.
Longer days and shorter holidays
The Education Secretary has suggested that longer school days, a cut to the summer holidays and extra support for teachers are all on the table as part of a Covid catch-up plan. Gavin Williamson expressed a need for a "transformative" change, stating “There is a whole range of different proposals that we are looking at whether it is a five-term year, whether it is lengthening the school day." This will have a huge impact on young people, educators and families alike, so we will be keeping an eye out for further updates.
French senior citizens link up with language students in lockdown
A story that made us all smile this week was that of modern languages student Elliot Bellman who paired up with Mme Tolu, a Parisian care home resident, to help keep his French up to scratch. He is one of 107 students matched with a senior citizen in France as part of the ShareAmi scheme, aiming to combat the isolation of older people during France’s strict lockdowns while helping language students develop their skills. “This allows me to keep talking to someone in French. And Mme Tolu doesn’t have any family around her anymore, so I feel like I am helping somewhat with the loneliness. It’s mutually beneficial,” Elliot said.
Back to school: How pupils feel about returning to class
As millions of pupils in England return to school after lockdown, the BBC went to Chantry Academy - a secondary school in Ipswich - to find out how students felt. While some look forward to seeing their friends again, and others cannot wait to ditch online learning, it’s refreshing to get a young person’s perspective on the challenges they have been at the heart of over the last 12 months.