Young Calderdale people speak about how COVID has affected them and their education

They have often been spoken about during the COVID-19 pandemic, but an education watchdog heard directly from young people about how they had been affected by it.

Sunday, 6th December 2020, 12:00 pm

Calderdale Youth Council’s response to COVID and education showed that contrary to popular perception of young people being ultra technology savvy, they valued and missed face to face teaching, they were worried about gaps in their learning caused by the pandemic to their education, they felt loneliness and it impacted on their mental health.

Chair of Calderdale Council’s Children and Young People’s Services Scrutiny Board, Coun Colin Raistrick, said the report provided real food for thought.

It was presented by Calderdale’s Member of the Youth Parliament, Praneetha Bharath, who said coping with the changes had been harder for some than others.

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Children making their way to school

“We value teaching in person as opposed to on screen.

“The situation has improved from the last academic year but young people are worried they have had big gaps in their learning,” she said.

The report said this involved students being given prepared and targeted work to take home if they had to isolate, but they were concerned they had missed “loads” of coursework and areas of curriculum that might feature in their exams.

Praneetha said there was an assumption that families had computers and wi-fi but this was not always true.

Other issues included children being unable to work at home because they had caring responsibilities for parents or siblings.

Mental health was a key issue, particularly the basic need to talk to somebody, a sense of aloneness and anxiety, and they had missed their friends with bubbles bringing issues of their own.

“It is nice to see people again but bubbles aren’t based around friendship groups, so for young people their bubble adds to their feeling of isolation,” said the report.

Coun Amanda Parsons-Hulse (Lib Dem, Warley), who worked with schools as a psychologist, said it was alarming how many young people were wanting support.

Coun Helen Rivron (Lab, Ovenden), who teaches, said particularly interesting was that young people struggled with learning that was just online and the classroom was really irreplaceable.

Coun Raistrick said issues about young people’s mental health remained a real worry, some of it because it appeared many young people were unaware of the help which was available.

“I think there is a crisis coming – I am a bit shocked that the awareness is not what we think it is,” he said.

Praneetha said: “It was easier before to access pastoral teams but during the pandemic it has been harder, with the restrictions we have.

“The teachers, if they recognise something, will ask us but it is harder for us to put things forward first,” she said.