Since March 2020, nurseries, schools, colleges and universities around the UK closed due to COVID-19 forcing home schooling nationwide overnight.
The infrastructure to educate over 10 million young people from home was not there, so schools, universities, teachers had to react quickly.
Families needed access to the internet in order to log into virtual classes. Parents had to adjust their work timetables in order to home school.
How many families can put their hands up and say that their children would engage with online learning, do set homework, do ‘learning’ for 5 days a week?
Not many, in fact possibly less than 1% would have done any kind of learning.
With the lure of Youtube, X-box and the stress of not seeing their friends, the mental stress and health effects on young people is a topic all of its own.
Exams such as GCSE’s and A-levels were graded based on predicted grades (which is possibly great for any students due to sit exams)
Exams for 2021 hang in the balance due to the new strains of the Chinese virus as it mutates. It is expected that exams in 2021 will be delayed, but with vaccine rollouts, there may be hope.
A big part of young children learning and developing social skills is engaging with each other and playing. 3-6 year olds possibly were effected the most by lockdown, unable to engage with their friends, teachers and people outside the immediate family.
Since not all communication is verbal, online learning is a distant second to classroom learning, however the choices were limited during the pandemic. No-one thought the pandemic would last as long as it had.
As we go through 2021, online learning is something we have now adapted to, and may well be a big part of education in the future for all age groups.
Not only did the government need to put procedures together overnight, but they needed to update the GOV.uk website with thousands of new information pages. Guidance for universities, guidance for schools etc.
Information leaflets need to be designed and set up, banners need to be produced advising a 2m distance. Hands face space are now in every school in the UK, all produced by marketing companies around the UK.
The financial strain on the education system to quickly update every website is huge. Not forgetting setting up online learning from each website so that students can log in and do virtual lessons.
A big topic in summer 2020 was school meals, since some families rely heavily on school dinners to feed their children.
Childhood obesity has been a topic in the media for years, Jamie Oliver focused on school dinners to combat this new problem back in 2018.
As we can see, education covers a broad range of topics, not just academic learning.
As adults, we are today what we experienced in our early years. If we were bullied at school, the scars will still be there. If we got involved in crime or dugs, the effects will still haunt us.
Young people going through this pandemic will be effected on many levels, not just missing out on an academic year of learning, but a broad range of issues.
The effects of COVID-19 and education will be with us for many years, many decades as young people move through education and into the wider world.
How we handle the next few months and years to protect and support our young people to reduce the damage COVID-19 and lockdown has caused is important.