Re-engaging with pupils

As the September term approaches, at the forefront of everyone’s minds are safety measures and new routines that we all have to adapt to when back in the classroom. However, returning to school also means re-engaging with pupils that have experienced challenges never endured before by their age group. So, what has life been like for secondary pupils during lockdown and what are they worried about on returning to the classroom? This article provides teachers with need to know insights from a secondary pupil in her own words and what she really wants you to understand.

Jane is a 14-year old student who will be starting Year 10 in September in an Academy Secondary school of nearly 1,800 pupils which includes sixth form. The following is an account in her own words of her experience of learning in lockdown and how she feels about returning to school.

“Before the pandemic I enjoyed the social aspect of school and the work sometimes, but occasionally, I would dream of the school closing down for some reason. I did not care what or why but the idea of not going to school excited me; I could not believe it when out of nowhere, it actually happened.

At first when the school closed down, I was really excited, but I also remember that there was a French exam that I really prepared for and wanted to do, which did not happen. I felt disappointed and frustrated and this continued as I felt my hard work was for nothing.

Learning from home was difficult, I had problems with wi-fi and was receiving pressure from teachers; I felt stressed when this would happen. I found it difficult to work on my own and not be around other students, the interaction of asking questions and lack of banter made learning flat and sometime boring. I valued the teachers who would get back to me fairly quickly, when I had a question, but I missed their face to face teaching in a classroom.

I feel that my progress in some subjects has been unaffected by the lockdown, but in others, my learning has been really hindered. I now feel anxious about the lack of teaching I have received and have lost confidence academically. I also feel socially anxious at times; routines are different and things that were automatic before are now not, so there is a lot to remember.

I definitely value being taught in person by teachers more than ever before and want to be in class so I can ask questions and get a response straight away. I am looking forward to getting back into a routine, but I am not sure what the new regime will look like. I am not bothered about wearing a mask as long as it not for a whole day but its ok for shorter periods. I feel confident that the school will be thorough in their measures to protect us.

The things that I would like teachers to understand is that:

I may be behind in lessons because I have not fully understood something when I was learning during lockdown, so please be patient and understanding.

I am not sure what the new regime of keeping everyone safe is going to look like; be clear about safety measures so that they are easy to follow.

I have really missed my friends and being around young people; understand we are excited to see each other.

I want teachers to look after their stress levels so we can all enjoy being taught in the classroom again.”